Great News:The Back Brace is Off!!!

It’s been exactly eight weeks and three days, trapped inside the TCO Total Contact Orthosis jacket( also known as the Clamshell) and I have been given my release papers so to speak. I am close to tears as I type this. I’ve been waiting such a long time for this day. I can finally stop wearing it, most of the time, and can thus drive a car and wear “real clothes” again. This is excellent news as I continue to recover from my injuries sustained in the equestrian accident that took place on September 4th. I have to be careful– no bending over at present, no lifting, or exercise other than my usual walks, but progress is taking place. My next step towards recovery is physical therapy to help the recovery of my neck muscles and tendons that are still tender and stiff. Physical therapy for my back will come later.
So my next plan of action, after I spend some time working on my job search, is to reorganize my closet. The weather has turned cold and I’ll now be able to wear some of those wool slacks, skirts and sweaters I purchased on sale last spring for the fall/winter season. (I do have a weakness for fashion.) Probably I will need to put the clamshell back on for protection, to remind me not to lift too many garments at one time. I’ve got at least two more months of being cautious and careful regarding my spine, but I feel confident I will become strong and whole if I can stay patient and in a positive frame of mind.

Published by Nadja Maril

Nadja Maril is a communications professional who has over 10 years experience as a magazine editor. A writer and journalist, Maril is the author of several books including: "American Lighting 1840-1940", "Antique Lamp Buyer's Guide", "Me, Molly Midnight; the Artist's Cat", and "Runaway, Molly Midnight; the Artist's Cat". Her short stories and essays have been published in several small online journals including Lunch Ticket, Change Seven, Scarlet Leaf Review and Defunkt Magazine. She has an MFA in creative writing from Stonecoast at the University of Southern Maine. Former Editor-in-Chief of What's Up ? Publishing, former Editor of Chesapeake Taste Magazine a regional lifestyle magazine based in Annapolis, and former Lighting Editor of Victorian Homes Magazine, Maril has written hundreds of newspaper and magazines articles on a variety of subjects..

16 thoughts on “Great News:The Back Brace is Off!!!

    1. I actually put it back on this afternoon to clean out my closet because I am so unused to lifting things as a protection. I also learned that it cost me (or the insurance company) about $2,000 so I guess I’ll keep it…just in case. BUT I do think I will have a ritual burning of the neck brace which I have not yet done. My grand plan is to have a big celebratory party in January.
      How is your recovery coming? How much longer in your neck brace?


      1. I actually got released from mine last Wednesday! I was (and still am) beside myself with glee. Doc told me that I might get a soft collar to help support my head until my neck muscles got stronger, but I never had the heart to put anything back around my neck. I’m just happy to drive again (and sleep directly against a pillow) (isn’t sleeping directly against a pillow great? =D) . Though my spine injuries weren’t as extensive as yours, I still have some nerve palsy from the concussion to get over. All in time.

        One piece of advice I have is do take your time with the bending over. It sounds like you’ve been a lot more patient than I have with your healing, so I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, but holy cow, even bending over to look in the fridge was excruciating several weeks out. Give that time, for sure!

        Good luck with your job search and best wishes with your healing. You will get there!


      2. Thank you Jason,. Great to hear you are also “almost there” with obtaining a full recovery. Yes, my first night of sleep without the brace on was a delight. But you are absolutely right that there is no bending for me at present. I’m still in squat mode. Driving was a bit of a challenge because my neck is still very stiff but I have a PT appointment for my neck already scheduled for next week. All the best to you and if you are ever passing our way through Maryland, let us know.


  1. Hello All,
    I am so glad I found this post. I wreck a dirt bike sept, 25 this year which broke c5, t3, t5, t6, t7, and t8.
    Now before I start my rant let me make it clear that I am VERY thankful to be walking and alive but, I am 28 years of age and up to the day of my accident ran several miles a day and cycled every where. So, this brace is driving me NUTS and no one understands! I have been so frustrated and the doctors tell me nothing. The eight week mark is coming up on the 20th of this month and I am going to beg him to take it away. So it’s just been up in the air, they say eight to twelve weeks.
    Ok:) that was my rant…. Cross your fingers on the twenty first, that is my next appointment. And by the way, the dirt bikes are for sale!:)
    Take care all


    1. Wow Brian-
      You certainly outdid me as far as number of breaks. Although I am old enough to be your mom (have a son your age!) I also have lead a very active lifestyle, working out at the gym every day., so I certainly relate to the forced adjustment to “take it slow”. I just got back from grocery shopping and of course asked the check-out clerk “please pack the bags extremely light, I have a touchy back , and can’t lift too much weight.” Immediately he started telling me about his back problems, having strained some muscles working in the yard… “No, you don’t understand,” I told him, “I actually broke my back, so I REALLY can’t lift much weight.”
      ie. Every time family members and friends start telling me about their physical infirmities I’ m responding, “I certainly have you trumped so I don’t even want to hear about it.” Now that the TCO is mostly off everyone is giving me advice about what kind of exercises I should do… Once again, I’m gently saying, “Actually, the doctor told me just take it easy for another month being very careful and maybe next month you can start doing P.T. for your back.” Anyway, hope your news is good news at your next visit, ad it is wonderful that with all those fractures you are mobile. Keep me posted.


      1. I most certainly will keep u posted, I am very glad I found your post. It has honestly made me feel better just to know there are other people out there dealing with this!



      2. Nadja,
        I am in my eighth week and it seems the muscle pain is getting worse. Is this normal? Did you experience this?
        I am moving much better but I do not understand why the muscle pain is worsening. My only thoughts are that the brace has weekend them.
        Your experience with this would be greatly appreciated!



      3. I just got back from a visit to the midwest (my son’s dissertation presentation at Notre Dame) and I am in terrible pain because I stupidly bent too far over to straighten out my coat that was balled up next to the lunch counter where we were having breakfast. While I was pain free the last few weeks in the brace, once the brace was off, I have had sporadic episodes, depending on my activities. So yes, the brace prevents you from using your muscles and if you start using them too soon, pain happens in a big way.


      4. Thanks!
        I still have on my brace but have been a little more free in my movement which I’m sure is causing the pain, or I hope that’s it. Im glad you got to go and visit your son.
        P.s I will let you know what the doc says Monday after I go.. Cross your fingers!


      5. It came off today!!! Well mostly, I was told to wean myself off of it for the next week and a half which I gladly agreed:) still no driving until I can turn my head better but I’m still so excited!!


      6. Brian-
        Physical therapy has been helping me gain better mobility with my neck. In a few more weeks I may try swimming, gentle swimming, but another opportunity to gradually use my muscles that have been on vacation! All the best to you and yours for a Happy Thanksgiving. Congratulations on being released from the “clamshell”/ Keep it handy just in case you want to wear it for a few hours to remind you of “good posture” before it ultimately gets “trashed”.


  2. Oh, and I meant to say that as much as I do hate this thing it is funny how scared I get when It comes off. I sure anyone who has had to wear one would agree that it is a love hate relationship. My first trip to the doctor I went in ready to complain about the brace and the first thing that happened wa the nurse asking me to remove it. It was at that point I realized I need this contraption I hate so much because I was TERRIFIED with out it:)


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