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Transitioning from Pavlik Harness to Rhino Brace

After 5 weeks in the Pavlik Harness, our pediatric orthopedic surgeon recommended we switch L. to the Rhino Brace. Her right hip was no longer dislocating, but was still shallow. Her left hip was teetering on the verge of normal. I was very disappointed at first. After all, weren’t we making progress with the harness?

I had so many questions: Shouldn’t we wait at least 8 weeks to see if her hips could be fixed using the harness ? Would making the switch to the brace mean another tumultuous period of adjustment? Would the hard plastic mean added discomfort for L.? The Rhino Brace has to come off for every diaper change, would L. resist having the brace put on each time after a diaper change the way she sometimes did the harness after her bath? Would diaper changes and a bath take up the entire hour of brace-free time she was allotted? What about her stretches and cuddles that we were used to? Would we be able to use her swing?

Getting the Rhino Brace required 2 visits to the orthotics place. One to take measurements and the second to pick up the brace. The brace had to be modified to fit L. since she was too small for it. This seemed relatively easy and involved the cutting down of the plastic and foam straps to make them thinner.

In the end we preferred the Rhino Brace to the Pavlik Harness. The transition was more or less seamless.  Here’s what we found:

  • The Rhino is slightly more restrictive when it comes to movement. It wraps around the waist and thighs and holds the legs in a more fixed frog-legged position than the Pavlik Harness. It is composed of a hard plastic and foam straps help in place by velcro. On the plus side, there was nothing around her upper body and no more velcro shoulder straps to startle her.
  • The Rhino was structured in way that removed any doubt that we were putting it on incorrectly or holding her in a way that pushed her hips together.
  • The Rhino is easier to keep clean than the Pavlik, not usually affected by spit up, and easier to clean should the need arise. You can wipe it down with a damp cloth and if need be use a hair dryer on cool to dry it.
  • Tummy Time! was no longer an issue in the Rhino Brace. While in the harness, the only tummy time L. did was lying on our chests. It was difficult to get her comfortable on her stomach.
  • Diaper changes did require removing the brace, but this meant a minute of stretching each time, which made L. very happy. While in the harness, L. got a longer period of time for stretching, but since she was getting stretches throughout the day, she seemed a lot happier with the brace.

A helpful tip about the Rhino Brace: We noticed that the foam straps of the Rhino Brace were slipping so we took L. back to the orthotics place where they fitted her for it and they quickly applied extra pieces of velcro to hold them in place.

Do you have any additional Rhino Brace helpful tips?

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