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Child Orthopedics
Spine - Cervical
Spine - Lumbar
Spine - Thoracic

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I seem to have pretty loose ligaments. It makes me more flexible than the average person. But I'm also involved in a lot of sports activities. So I'm a little worried about getting a knee injury. Some girls on my volleyball team are wearing a knee brace just in case. Does this really work to prevent knee injuries? Should I get one, too?

Athletes often ask about the use of knee bracing to prevent knee injuries or to prevent re-injury. There's a lot of debate about this idea. Some experts have expressed concern that bracing will cause the leg muscles to weaken and atrophy. Others think bracing will compromise speed and agility. Players often feel as though the brace gives them the support and protection they need to be able to play their best. But others complain that the brace holds them back and hampers their performance. What's the real truth about prophylactic (preventive) bracing? There isn't much evidence from high-quality studies yet to guide us. What has been published so far shows that injury rates are lower for players at risk for medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury who wear a protective knee brace during practices and games. While providing protection for the knee, the brace doesn't really seem to limit function. That information should help put players' fears to rest that their performance is negatively affected by the brace. The next question seems to be: what kind of bracing should be used? Can an athlete using a prefab (off-the-shelf) garden-variety knee brace get the same kind of protection as someone wearing a more specifically designed type of brace? One study of eight commercially available knee braces showed a 20 to 30 per cent increase in knee stiffness and reduction of strain on the ligaments. But another study reported decreased blood flow and oxygen to the muscles and joint in athletes wearing a brace to protect and prevent knee injuries. A study done on military recruits at West Point playing intramural tackle football showed fewer knee injuries in the cadets who were wearing a knee brace. Injuries were far fewer for players at risk of medial collateral ligament injuries (e.g., linebackers and tight ends). Overall, it looks like there may be some benefit to wearing a knee brace to prevent medial collateral ligament injuries (the most commonly injured knee ligament). More studies are really needed to confirm this and prove that there are no limitations to knee function while wearing the brace.


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