'airy' scoliosis brace is designed for young girls to wear with comfort and confidence

'airy' scoliosis brace is designed for young girls to wear with comfort and confidence

airy brace: the subtle and simple design


Aiming to create a subtle alternative to a typically bulky assistive device, designer Sangyu Xi creates this ‘Airy’ brace for adolescents with scoliosis. This condition, a lateral curvature in the spine, most commonly occurs in the years before puberty and is treated with a brace which wraps the torso and gradually guides the spine into place. Many braces currently in use are custom-fit to the user, meaning each will take a long time to make before it is quickly out-grown.


The prototype has been announced national winner of the James Dyson Award for its comfortable and lightweight fit, its simple off-the-shelf design, and its adaptability as it is intended to ‘grow’ with the patient throughout years of use.

airy scoliosis braceimages courtesy James Dyson Award



overcoming the obstacles of its precedents


Sangyu Xi, a recent graduate from the University of Cincinnati, designs the Airy brace with adolescent girls in mind, the demographic found to be the most affected with scoliosis. While speaking with a group of girls with this condition, it was discovered that the typical rigid Boston Brace offers ‘low comfort and poor aesthetics,’ making it difficult to wear for enough hours each day. What’s more, the Boston Brace is outgrown every two years on average.


I found that the existing braces encounter many obstacles with the patient compliance, fabrication, and their disposals, all of which limit their adoption,’ the designer notes. Thus, the James Dyson Award winner is readily made and can be adjusted to the patient’s body and future growth for at least three years.

airy scoliosis brace



a beautiful device for its unique wearer


The design of Airy is informed by the Light Cheneau brace, which is built with an aluminum back support and four adjustable side pieces. Airy adopts this architecture, with these side pieces modified to be symmetrical. This allows for the brace to adjust patients with wither left or right curvature. The front closure comprises a three-point connection of heavy-duty nylon cord, rather than the Velcro strap of the precedent.


The final prototype is built of translucent polylactic acid (PLA) together with padding available in five color options based on the unique style of the patient. This padding integrates an internal voronoi patterning to ensure comfort and allow body heat to ventilate. 


Designer Sangyu Xi comments: ‘To further explore the aesthetics, I used Grasshopper to create graceful and fabric-like patterns which wouldn’t make the user embarrassed if her brace was exposed.’

airy scoliosis brace
heavy-duty nylon cords allow for easy adjustments



The simplicity of the Airy brace, and its integrated perforations, allows for the wearer to easily fit it from home. Then, a smart device connected to the brace allows the wearer’s development to be monitored through a dedicated app. Once the brace has outlasted its use, its rigid parts can be recycled. This is a unique feature as unlike typical braces used today, Airy is built without the use of synthetic glues.

'airy' scoliosis brace is designed for young girls to wear with comfort and confidencethe simple, off-the-shelf design, can ‘grow’ with the patient throughout years of use

'airy' scoliosis brace is designed for young girls to wear with comfort and confidencethe rigid parts are assembled without the use of glues, and can thus be easily recycled

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