Through both personal experience and working with many patients I have dealt with multiple ACL braces over the past 10 years.
As a Canadian Certified Pedorthist and Kinesiologist, I have fit over 100 ACL braces for both pre and post surgery. As a patient myself with tearing my ACL twice, I have also worn many different braces.
Is a Brace Really Necessary?
I commonly get asked by my clients if a brace is really necessary. Depending on who your orthopaedic surgeon and or physiotherapist is you will get different responses.
The goal of any ACL repair and rehabilitation should be to function at full capacity once the rehab is done.
To have this happen a full program written by a physiotherapist should be done that usually takes around 6 months. This is one area where a brace can help. Most exercises are done without a brace to allow the surrounding muscles to strengthen.
When you are not doing your rehab, a brace is a good option to make sure no damage is done while the knee is strengthening and stabilizing.
Another area where using an ACL brace is beneficial is once you start non-rehab exercises again.
Anyone that has gone through this injury and rehab knows that they do not want to do it again. When getting back into your activities you can be tentative and try to put less stress on the injured leg.
Surprisingly, it is just as common to tear the opposite leg ACL then to tear the same one again, maybe due to this principle. By wearing a brace it can give you the added protection to start trusting your leg again.
Finally, I would also use a brace with high-intensity activities such as skiing, and snowboarding, and high impact activities like football. The torque and stress put on your knee during these activities give it a higher chance of re-tearing so the added protection can help stabilize the knee.
There are many different ACL brace options to choose from. The major companies such as Don Joy, Ossur, CTi, and Breg all make great options.
The important factors when choosing a brace come from the person measuring, as certain braces will fit different leg types and be more suitable for certain activities. No one enjoys wearing a knee brace, although going custom can help avoid annoyances such as slipping and skin irritation.
An ACL brace is not a permanent solution and should be used in conjunction with rehab, and then with special activities. Through my own injuries, I have found it is great to have when going into situations where stability could be an issue.
Always listen to your surgeon and physiotherapist and if you have questions about which brace would be best for you come into any Kintec location.
Peter Morcom B. Kin., C. PED (C)
Regional Manager, Kintec