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The effect of ankle and knee bracing on joint stability and performance during different tasks
  1. Jim Richards


Braces are commonly used for prevention and treatment of ankle and knee injuries by individuals who take part in sporting activities which involve challenges to the stability of joints. However, the use of ankle and knee bracing is less common in the conservative management of joint pain and pathology which is not sporting related. In all cases, the braces are attempting to provide improved stability of the joints in the coronal and transverse plane, but there has been much debate on whether bracing offers a functional or proprioceptive effect.

Much of the biomechanical testing to date has been conducted using very simple biomechanical models, which allow do not allow accurate measures of the movement and moments about the foot, ankle and knee joints in the coronal and transverse planes. From this it is safe to say that the effect of ankle and knee bracing on the coronal and transverse plane mechanics of the lower limb have not received any adequate attention in the research literature, although clinically these are the very things that such devices often claim to support and control. The importance of coronal and torsional movement and moments of the foot, ankle and knee joints has previously been identified. However, little or no work has been published to see how the torsional and coronal mechanics of the ankle and knee joints are changed during functional tasks using devices designed to control and give stability to these joints.

This workshop will consider the action of several methods of orthotic management of the ankle and knee joints on a variety of conditions by considering the research evidence. In each case, advanced methods of analysis have been used to determine the biomechanical changes and how these can be related to the clinical benefits. This will highlight not just the effects about the foot and ankle but also the effects of treating the foot and ankle on the knee, hip and pelvis. The data on a variety of methods of bracing for patellofemoral pain and ankle stability will be considered, with particular attention on the nature of the functional and proprioceptive effects of each method.

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