Effect of prophylactic knee bracing on balance and joint position sense

J Athl Train. 1996 Apr;31(2):131-6.


Prophylactic knee braces are designed to prevent and reduce the severity of ligamentous injuries to the knee. Conflicting evidence is reported concerning their efficacy. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of prophylactic knee bracing on the proprioceptive parameters of balance and joint position sense. Active and passive joint position sense were assessed using the Cybex II + Isokinetic Dynamometer (Cybex Division of Lumex, Inc, Ronkonkoma, NY). Sway index and center of balance were assessed using the Chattecx Dynamic Balance System (Chattanooga Group, Hixson, TN). Thirty-six male subjects were measured with and without prophylactic knee braces. Joint position sense was measured in degrees of error from four preselected target angles. Sway index and center of balance measures were recorded in centimeters under the following platform conditions: stable, plantar flexion/dorsiflexion, and inversion/eversion. Separate repeated measures ANOVAs were performed to determine if there were differences between the braced and unbraced conditions for center of balance, sway index, and joint position sense. Center of balance with the platform moving in a dorsi/plantar flexion direction was improved while wearing the knee braces. In addition, differences in both center of balance and sway were recorded across the three platform conditions with and without knee bracing. Bracing did not affect joint position sense. The results of this study suggest that prophylactic knee braces have very little impact on proprioceptive feedback mechanisms.