What is bracing for?
Your body may suffer injuries that require immobilization and or stabilization, such as fractures or sprains. The use of bracing has numerous potential benefits, depending on the particular application.
Bracing can provide the injured body part a platform of support, allowing the normal regenerative processes of the body to take place. Bracing can also be used to stabilize a joint, or to restrict the range of motion. The brace can also be used in the rehabilitation program of an injured joint, offloading weight and providing stability until normal function is restored.
What are the different kinds of braces?
While the structure and design of the brace depends on the purpose for which is designed, braces can be classified into four (4) general categories: prophylactic braces; functional braces; rehabilitative braces;
and unloader braces.
Each of these four general classifications has a specific spectrum of applications, so care must be taken to choose the one most appropriate for the patient. Each kind of brace will have its specific advantages and disadvantages, although a general rule of thumb for brace selection is that it should not interfere with the functionality of the joint, and it should not get in the way of the patient independently performing activities of daily living.
What are prophylactic braces?
Prophylactic braces are made from a variety of materials, including metal, foam, or synthetic materials. The primary purpose of prophylactic braces is to protect the joint from injury. This is especially useful in contact sports, such as American football, hockey, and other sports that place joints at risk for external trauma and rotational stress.
Studies have shown that the use of prophylactic braces can potentially reduce an athlete’s risk for injury, particularly for common injuries such as tears in the Medical Collateral Ligament (MCL) of the knee.
What are functional braces?
Functional braces provide stability and support, while at the same time maintaining maximum functionality and range of motion while the patient recovers from injury. They are best used for sports injuries, rehabilitation and post-operative recovery.
You can imagine functional braces as external support for the injured ligaments: while this may not fully restore the range of motion for the affected joint, this provides additional stability that can be useful as part of a physical therapy and rehabilitation program. Functional braces have also been shown to reduce the risk of aggravating the injury.
What are rehabilitative braces?
Rehabilitative braces are more restrictive, and are designed to limit the movement of the affected body part. They are usually built from foam liners on an adjustable metal frame, and can be kept in place for several weeks before replacement with a more mobile type of brace.
What are unloader braces?
Unloader braces are designed to transfer the biomechanical forces away from affected or injured body part. By reducing the weight bearing job of the joint, unloader braces reduce the stress on the affected body part. This has a variety of applications in chronic conditions, including osteoarthritis of the knee.
What is the use of bracing for the knee?
The knee is one of the most commonly injured parts of the body, especially for athletes and the elderly. Athletes typically suffer acute injuries, while the elderly are more prone to chronic conditions.
Prophylactic bracing may be useful for athletes, who are prone to injuries such as the tears of the MCL and the ACL. The knee can be protected against potentially injurious rotational stress with the use of prophylactic braces. Elderly patients who suffer from osteoarthritis of the knee, wherein the cartilage that allows smooth motion of the knee has been worn away. The use of unloader braces provides external support, relieving the pain of stress to the affected area.
What is the use of bracing for the back?
Bracing for the back can be useful in limiting the range of motion and providing stability to the spinal column in cases of fracture, or in post-operative fusions. In these cases, the use of back brace prevents aggravation of existing damage and lowers the risk for re-injury.
Bracing can also be done to correct or to prevent progression of conditions such as scoliosis, which is abnormal curvature of the spinal column. Elastic braces can also be used to provide support for the spine during heavy lifting and other conditions of stress.
What is the use of bracing for the ankle?
The use of ankle bracing immobilizes the ankle, affording it protection and stability while it heals. Ankle braces are typically made of semi-rigid fabrics such as nylon and neoprene. Aside from stabilizing the joint, ankle braces are used to provide compression, reducing swelling and pain from injuries such as sprains, tenosynovitis, inflammation, among others.
Superior Medical Solutions offers exceptional prescription bracing options for both patients and providers. For patients, telemedicine consultations are available, so you don’t even have to leave your home and the brace is shipped right to your home!
For providers, institutional pricing is available and consignment pricing as well. Call (888) 885-2929 today!
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 Mihata LC1, Beutler AI, Boden BP. Comparing the incidence of anterior cruciate ligament injury in collegiate lacrosse, soccer, and basketball players: implications for anterior cruciate ligament mechanism and prevention. Am J Sports Med. 2006 Jun;34(6):899-904. Epub 2006 Mar 27.
 Katz DE, Durrani AA. Factors that influence outcome in bracing large curves in patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Spine. 2001 Nov 1;26(21):2354-61
 Robert C. Schenck, Jr. M.D. (1999). Athletic training and sports medicine. Jones & Bartlett Learning. pp. 346–. ISBN 978-0-89203-172-6. Retrieved 25 May 2013.