In honor of June being National Scoliosis Awareness Month, we decided to share Grace’s story:
Grace’s grandmother fought back tears the first time she saw then 14-year-old Grace in a scoliosis brace. It brought back so many unpleasant memories. In her day, grandma’s diagnosis of scoliosis meant wearing a full body cast and brace 24-hours-a-day. But grandma’s tears were also tinged with disbelief and relief at how far the technology has come.
Grace never knew. Grandma hid the tears and Grace just took it in stride that she needed to wear a “scoli” brace. Grace decided early on that if she didn’t make a big deal out of it, others would follow her lead. But it was not without challenges.
When first diagnosed, Grace’s doctor brought out a traditional Boston brace. Grace’s dad says it was the first and only time he saw a look of panic on her face. So they set out to find a better alternative.
As luck would have it, UNYQ was launching its Align™ scoliosis brace at just about the same time. Grace became an early model of the first-ever 3D printed, customized and fashion-forward scoliosis brace. UNYQ’s goal was – and continues to be – to utilize modern technology to provide comfort and style in a brace that empowers its users to meet their wear-time goals.
Grace’s momentary worries were swept away in the short time it took to configure her first brace. Ultimately, she would become instrumental in helping to improve the design and wearability.
“UNYQ has been great about listening and making improvements. Now the brace just feels like part of me. The style and customization are really a great evolution.”
That evolution has been remarkable. In just three short years, the UNYQ Align™ scoliosis brace has gone from unknown to renown. The work of the UNYQ team and design partner Studio Bitonti has been featured at the White House and is now a part of the permanent collection at New York City’s Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum.
Recognized for its engineering and fashion feat, the UNYQ Align scoliosis brace utilizes Grace’s wear input and data to help significantly change the daily dynamics of all scoliosis patients. And that doesn’t go unnoticed by those who experienced past treatment options. When Grace removed her brace to go through an airport scanner, a lady who once wore a brace herself told Grace how happy she was for her that the technology has changed so much.
Grace’s treatment journey has brought some unexpected opportunities, too. As a UNYQ model, Grace spoke on stage at the White House to support and highlight inclusive technology for all individuals with mobility or other challenges. She walked the runway in a Silicon Valley fashion show and again in a Charlotte, NC fashion show where she donned a “Galaxy Princess” look that let her step outside her normally shy demeanor. She walked the red carpet and interacted with the professional models, fellow UNYQ models, local medical providers, and, of course, the audience – all with the grace of someone who is finding herself in the ability to help others.
As expected, the shy teenager takes it all in stride. She didn’t mention the news stories about her endeavors to classmates, though some read about it and told her it was neat. Some just didn’t say anything. And that’s okay.
Since the White House event, Grace says she is finding herself more open. It’s like the stylistic brace that has become a part of her is not only pushing her spine to better alignment, but it’s also pushing her forward to discover and do things she wouldn’t normally do. It empowers her. And that makes Grace’s UNYQ scoliosis brace uniquely her.
In this case, and countless others to come, technology improvements have truly moved one generation and another. All in the family. And we bet grandma will tear up again at the beauty of that.