A molded jacket, also called a thoracolumbosacral orthosis (TLSO), provides rigid stabilization to treat a number of spinal conditions, including spinal fractures and scoliosis. This article is specifically about molded jackets. If you'd like to learn about all the different types of spinal braces, please read our spinal bracing overview.
A molded jacket is a total-coverage brace. What that means is that this spinal brace supports a large area—it covers the thoracic spine (upper back), lumbar spine (low back), and sacrum.
This type of spinal brace provides a strong external support for your thoracic and lumbar regions. As such, molded jackets may help treat a variety of spinal conditions, including:
Your doctor may also prescribe a molded jacket to limit movement and promote healing after spine surgery.
What Does a Molded Jacket Look Like?
A molded jacket is made of a hard, lightweight plastic shell with a soft inner lining for comfort. Some molded jackets are single-piece braces that come with one opening. Others come in 2 pieces with openings on both sides of the jacket (this design is often called the clamshell).
As the name implies, a molded jacket is molded to your body. A specialist called an orthotist will specially design and custom fit the molded jacket for you. To customize the fit, your orthotist will likely use digital technology to accurately craft the mold for your brace. Plaster of Paris may also be used to create a cast, though this method is more outdated.
A molded jacket controls movement in all directions—front, back, and side. It also limits how far you can rotate. By restricting mobility, a molded jacket prevents further damage to spinal structures that are trying to heal. The rigidity of the brace may also prevent the progression of deformity in patients with scoliosis or kyphosis.
A molded brace also encourages healing by increasing pressure in your abdomen and chest. This, in turn, reduces the pressure on your spine.
Molded jackets can provide non-surgical treatment for a variety of spinal disorders. But as with any treatment, it's essential that you follow your doctor's specific instructions. Patients typically wear a molded jacket for 3 months, but your doctor may recommend a different length of wear for you based on your condition. If you have any questions about how to care for your spinal brace—or if you'd like more information on how your brace may improve your condition—don't hesitate to ask your doctor or orthotist.