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Neoprene Sleeve in Anterior Cruciate Ligament Surgery

Users of functional knee braces and neoprene sleeves have similar recoveries from anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction, according to new research presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine at the Telus Convention Center.

For patients returning to sport after ACL reconstruction, a functional knee brace, which is sturdy, elaborate, and expensive, does not provide advantages over a soft neoprene elastic sleeve, says principal investigator Trevor Birmingham, Ph.D., P.T., Canada Research Chair in musculoskeletal rehabilitation at the University of Western Ontario and the Fowler Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic in London, Ontario.

ACL reconstruction surgery is common, particularly in young, athletic individuals. The ACL is an important ligament inside the knee that helps keep it stable.

ACL reconstruction involves replacing the torn ACL with a strip of tendon called a graft. Approximately 100,000 ACL reconstructions are performed annually according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

It is widely believed that the rigid support provided by a functional knee brace protects the graft and improves knee stability and function when the patient returns to sport after surgery and rehabilitation, explains Dr. Birmingham. Others believe that the additional support provided by a brace is not necessary.

To address this uncertainty, Dr. Birmingham and colleagues studied 150 athletes preparing to return to sport following ACL reconstruction. Seventy-six patients were randomized to receive a functional knee brace and 74 to receive a neoprene sleeve.

The patients were instructed to wear the orthosis during all physical activities. The researchers found no significant differences between the groups at the one- and two-year follow-up visits.

Based on our clinical experience, we were not completely surprised by the resul
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