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The effect of prophylactic knee bracing on performance: balance, proprioception, coordination, and muscular power

Abstract

Purpose

Prophylactic knee braces are largely used in the prevention of ligament injuries, but their effectiveness on performance are still controversial. The aim of this study was to determine which brace was the most effective on functional performance.

Method

Twenty-four healthy subjects (14 men and 10 women), between the age of 18 and 22 with no prior history of lower limb injury and brace use, voluntarily participated in this study. Five different prophylactic knee braces were used. The test protocol consisted of dynamic balance, jumping performance, proprioception, coordination, and maximal force. Balance was assessed by the Y balance test; jumping performance was assessed by vertical jump and one-leg hop tests; maximal force, proprioception, and coordination were assessed by using functional squat testing. Proprioceptive test was performed by using the functional squat system machine that the participants were instructed to keep the crosshair on the line, even after the visual aid had disappeared. The subjects without a brace and with the brace by using 5 different braces (DonJoy-USA) were evaluated by five different therapists.

Results

Hinged “H” buttress for the support of the knee brace was found to be more effective than the others in terms of balance. Drytex economy hinged knee brace had the best result in terms of proprioception and maximal force. There were no significant differences in vertical jump and one-leg hop tests (n.s.).

Conclusion

In conclusion, the hinged “H” buttress for support of the knee brace and Drytex economy hinged knee brace produced the best results on the performance parameters. The other three braces demonstrated more variable and less optimal results. Prophylactic knee braces can be used for both healthy subjects and athletes to enhance proprioception, coordination, maximal force, and balance, but it is important to choose the best proper brace to the individuals according to their fitness level.

Level of evidence

(Economic and decision analysis—developing an economic or decision model), Level II.

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Acknowledgments

The authors specially thank Smith & Nephew, DonJoy Inc. Carlsbad, California, for providing all braces according to subjects’ size.

Conflict of interest

The authors did not receive grants or outside funding in support of their research or preparation of this manuscript. They did not receive payments, other benefits, commitments, or agreements from a commercial entity to provide such benefits. No commercial entity paid or directed, or agreed to pay or direct, any benefits to any research fund, foundation, educational institution, or other charitable or nonprofit organization with which the authors are affiliated or associated. Braces were provided by Smith & Nephew, DonJoy Inc. Carlsbad, California.

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Correspondence to Gul Baltaci.

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Baltaci, G., Aktas, G., Camci, E. et al. The effect of prophylactic knee bracing on performance: balance, proprioception, coordination, and muscular power. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc 19, 1722–1728 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00167-011-1491-3

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Keywords

  • Prophylactic knee brace
  • Performance
  • Proprioception
  • Coordination