Emma was not a happy newborn. Born with a broken clavicle, she’d scream out in pain whenever her mother tried to pick her up or breastfeed her, and there wasn’t anything to help her.
So Kirsten Quist made her own solution — a tubular bandage she’s sewn to become a brace.
“She was in so much pain, she wasn’t even eating, which as a parent is super stressful, and so I took my little brace and I put it on her and sewed up that bit, and she was still able to move a little bit more than I wanted, but it was enough where it worked,” Quist said.
Five years later, the Lehi mom has turned her solution into a business. Infant Brace is the first brace made for infants with a broken collarbone, an injury that 1 to 3 percent of infants sustain at birth.
It all started when Quist learned that Emma had a broken collarbone and that there wasn’t a brace available for infants. Quist, a nurse, asked what could be done to stabilize Emma’s collarbone and was told to either pin Emma’s sleeve to the front of her shirt or to wrap the infant really tight. Quist, who at the time lived with her family in a home that lacked air conditioning, wasn’t willing to wrap Emma, and the pin method didn’t work for long.
“It was 30 seconds, I think, and she was out,” Quist said.
A traditional wrap wouldn’t work either, it would be too big and hot for babies. Then Quist remembered tubular bandaging in hospitals, and tried that next. Emma was able to wiggle her arm around, so Quist sewed a separate tube for Emma’s arm.
It worked, and Emma was comfortable being held and breastfed again.
As a mother, Quist said the brace made all the difference.
“She ignored one of her basic needs because it hurt so bad, and that’s scary as a parent,” Quist said.
Emma’s doctor commented on the brace at an appointment, and a couple of years later people started urging Quist to start making braces for others. Her family took the plunge, launched a website six months ago and applied for a patent.
The Infant Brace is made of a lightweight, breathable mesh. While braces and casts don’t heal broken bones, they do stabilize the broken bone and help to reduce pain, which Quist said can prevent parents from holding their babies in the first weeks of life.
Babies wear the brace for about two weeks.
Quist wants pediatricians and hospitals to stock the braces so patients can get immediate relief. For now, the brace is being sold online.