My name is Rob, an owner of Brackish Bracing, and a new sponsor of ECMTB. I thought I would introduce myself and talk a bit about what we do and why getting a medical brace any place else is like buying a bike from a department store.
I have been a member of ECMTB since the beginning. I started my cycling industry career in 2004 when, like most East Coasters, I moved to Calgary. I started working at Bowcycle (Canada’s largest bike shop) as a tech. Over the next 15 years I traveled all over Canada, working with various shops, programs and teams from locals to UCI level. During this time I worked on adaptive equipment for racers, which is when I discovered the industry of Prosthetics and Orthotics (P&O). I thought it was a great second-career option. My cycling background got me early acceptance into the only, very competitive, P&O technical school in Canada. It turned out that a lot of the technical concepts are the same in the cycling world as they are in the P&O world - prosthetic knees are the same as frame suspension and cable-driven harnesses for prosthetic arms are the same as drivetrains.
In school I met Jenna: Brackish’s other owner, cyclist and Certified Orthotist. Certified Orthotists are the clinical bracing experts within the field of P&O. Brackish is the only private clinic on mainland Nova Scotia that offers the services of a Certified Orthotist. Certified Orthotists are held to strict Canons of Ethical Conduct through Orthotics Prosthetics Canada (OPC) https://opcanada.ca/ and they are considered the Gold Standard for head-to-toe bracing, nationwide.
It may come as a surprise that braces are like bikes, in that you don’t need a license to fit and sell them, and the differences in training, expertise, and accountability amongst providers is vast. As the consumer, it’s up to you to vet the provider before committing - if you are going to entrust your safety, mobility, and performance with a provider, you want to make sure they are knowledgeable, skilled, ethical, and accountable. The pathway to become and maintain the designation of Certified Orthotist involves six years of post-secondary education, a two-year residency, board exams, and a lifetime of continuing education. This level of training and expertise is far above any other provider of custom or off-the-shelf bracing in Canada. One might say that getting fitted with a brace by anyone else is a lot like getting a bike shaped object (BSO) at a department store…except it’s your health we’re talking about.
Brackish is equipped with a full custom fabrication workshop where we make most of your devices in-house out of various plastics, composites, and metals. We have a comfortable, spacious, and accessible patient area. Patient assessment, shape capture (casting by hand or digital 3D scans), device fabrication, fitting, and device maintenance (repairs and adjustments) are done on-site.
We work with your doctors and medical specialists to design and implement treatment plans and devices for long-term and/or complex mobility issues. We work with adaptive athletes who would benefit from specialised bracing for their daily use and/or their sport. We work with athletes who have lingering symptoms from old injuries, and with those who are experiencing new chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis. The drugstore is there for short-term, uncomplicated injuries like rolling your ankle. For everything else, reach out to us here or at the shop and we can talk about the best solutions for you, even if it’s not us.