Can a knee brace reduce the strain in the anterior cruciate ligament? A study using combined in vivo/in vitro method

Prosthet Orthot Int. 2016 Jun;40(3):394-9. doi: 10.1177/0309364615574167. Epub 2015 Mar 24.


Background and aim: It is unknown whether prophylactic knee braces can reduce the strain in the anterior cruciate ligament during dynamic activities.

Technique: An athlete, who had characteristics of high anterior cruciate ligament injury risk, was chosen. A motion capture system (Optotrak Certus; Northern Digital, Waterloo, ON, Canada) was used to record dynamic trials during drop-landing activity of this subject with and without the knee brace being worn. A musculoskeletal model was used to estimate the muscle forces during this activity. A dynamic knee simulator then applied kinematics and muscle forces on a cadaver knee with and without the brace mounted on it. The anterior cruciate ligament strain was measured.

Discussion: The peak strain in the anterior cruciate ligament was substantially lower for the braced (7%) versus unbraced (20%) conditions. Functional knee braces could decrease the strain in the anterior cruciate ligament during dynamic activities in a high-risk subject. However, the reduction seems to be a result of altered muscle firing pattern due to the brace.

Clinical relevance: Prophylactic knee brace could reduce the strain in the anterior cruciate ligament of high-risk subjects during drop-landing through altered muscle firing pattern associated with brace wear. This could help reduce the anterior cruciate ligament injury risk.

Keywords: Anterior cruciate ligament; bracing; injury risk; knee; ligaments; strain.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries / rehabilitation*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Braces / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cadaver
  • Humans
  • Knee Injuries / physiopathology
  • Knee Injuries / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Primary Prevention / methods
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Stress, Mechanical*
  • Young Adult