Fitter’s Guide for Leopard Spinal Braces
The Leopard spinal brace may be dispensed as an off-the-shelf brace (OTS) or it may be custom fitted to meet a patient’s specialized needs. If the former, the patient should read the “Patient Care and Use Information.” If the latter, the Custom Fitting Adjustments below describe the steps to proper brace fitting that should be performed by a medical professional with appropriate expertise.
Putting on the Leopard Brace
- Loosen the brace straps, if they are not already loosened.
- Before wrapping the brace around the patient’s body, fasten the vertical Velcro hook strip of the left strapping to the left side of the front panel.
- Position the brace so the back of the brace is centered and in its most comfortable position on the patient’s back.
- Have the patient fasten the right side of the strapping by holding the front panel in their left hand and the vertical strip of the right strapping in their right hand. They may mirror these instructions left to right.
- Have the patient tighten the straps, pulling on the D rings of the opposing straps simultaneously. Have the patient pull the bottom pair snug but not tight, then do the same to thetop pair, then cinch the first pair tight, then cinch the bottom pair tight.
- If the Leopard brace you’re fitting has a STEP (Sternal Thoracic Extension Plate) with shoulder straps, the patient can either put the brace on like a shirt, slipping their arms through the straps, or they can loosen one of the straps to remove the Leopard brace, then re-tighten that strap after putting it back on.
Custom Fitting Adjustments to the Leopard Brace
Trimming – The tri-laminate fabric of the body of the Leopard brace may be trimmed to remove portions that cause discomfort or restrict movement.
Bending – The Kydex plates may be bent slightly to accommodate an unusual abdominal shape. If more than a slight contour is necessary, you may need to apply heat to the plate in order to remold it.
Re-molding – The Kydex plates were molded during brace fabrication. The anterior plate may need to be heated and re-molded for a specialized fit—for example, to accommodate the roundness of a pendulous abdomen. More frequently, the lordosis or kyphosis of the posterior plate may need to be modified to accommodate the patient’s spine. To do this, use a heat gun to warm the portion of the plate to be remolded. Use gloves to avoid burning your hands. Use caution not to overheat the plates or they may lose their original molded shape. While the Kydex is malleable, contour the plate to the desired shape. Hold the remolded position until the plate cools, then re-insert it. The lateral plates, if your Leopard brace contains them, may also need to be similarly modified. The engraved text will help you reorient all plates correctly.
Assembling – The Leopard brace lends itself particularly well to custom fitting because each part of the Leopard brace is removable and re-attachable by hook and loop closures to each other part. In extreme cases, the experienced fitter may need to disassemble the entire brace and reassemble it in a fashion compatible with the patient’s unique body shape.
Customizing – Any specialized customization needed, such as cutting an opening for a stoma, relieving impinged areas of the spine, adding peroneal straps, or installing a STEP (Sternal Thoracic Extension Plate), should be completed at this time.