Background: Knee sleeves are widely used for the symptomatic relief and subjective improvements of knee problems. To date, however, their biomechanical effects have not been well understood.
Objective: To determine whether knee sleeves can significantly improve the biomechanical variables for knee problems.
Method: Systematic literature search was conducted on four online databases - PubMed, Web of Science, ScienceDirect and Springer Link - to find peer-reviewed and relevant scientific papers on knee sleeves published from January 2005 to January 2015. Study quality was assessed using the Structured Effectiveness Quality Evaluation Scale (SEQES).
Results: Twenty studies on knee sleeves usage identified from the search were included in the review because of their heterogeneous scope of coverage. Twelve studies found significant improvement in gait parameters (3) and functional parameters (9), while eight studies did not find any significant effects of knee sleeves usage.
Conclusion: Most improvements were observed in: proprioception for healthy knees, gait and balance for osteoarthritic knees, and functional improvement of injured knees. This review suggests that knee sleeves can effect functional improvements to knee problems. However, further work is needed to confirm this hypothesis, due to the lack of homogeneity and rigor of existing studies.
Keywords: Biomechanics; Knee sleeve; Proprioception; Review.
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