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Effect of functional knee brace use on acceleration, agility, leg power and speed performance in healthy athletes

Abstract

Objectives To investigate performance levels and accommodation period to functional knee brace (FKB) use in non-injured braced subjects while completing acceleration, agility, lower extremity power and speed tasks.

Design A 2 (non-braced and braced conditions) × 5 (testing sessions) repeated-measures design.

Methods 27 healthy male athletes were provided a custom fitted FKB. Each subject performed acceleration, agility, leg power and speed tests over 6 days; five non-braced testing sessions over 3 days followed by five braced testing sessions also over 3 days. Each subject performed two testing sessions (3.5 h per session) each day. Performance levels for each test were recorded during each non-braced and braced trial. Repeated measures analysis of variance, with a post hoc Tukey's test for any test found to be significant, were used to determine if accommodation to FKB was possible in healthy braced subjects.

Results Initial performance levels were lower for braced than non-braced for all tests (acceleration p=0.106; agility p=0.520; leg power p=0.001 and speed p=0.001). However, after using the FKB for approximately 14.0 h, no significant performance differences were noted between the two testing conditions (acceleration non-braced, 0.53±0.04 s; braced, 0.53±0.04 s, p=0.163, agility non-braced, 9.80±0.74 s; braced, 9.80±0.85 s, p=0.151, lower extremity power non-braced, 58±7.4 cm; braced, 57±8.1 cm, p=0.163 and speed non-braced, 1.86±0.11 s; braced, 1.89±0.11 s, p=0.460).

Conclusions An initial decrement in performance levels was recorded when a FKB is used during an alactic performance task. After 12.0–14.0 h of FKB use, performance measures were similar between the two testing conditions.

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