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Design Innovation Paper

A New Adjustable Unloader Knee Brace and Its Effectiveness

[+] Author and Article Information
Gajendra Hangalur

Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, N2L 3G1
ghangalur@gmail.com

Ryan Bakker

Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, N2L 3G1
ryanmbakker@gmail.com

Sebastian Tomescu

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, University of Toronto, 43 Wellesley St. East, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4Y 1H1
sebastian.tomescu@sunnybrook.ca

Naveen Chandrashekar

Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, N2L 3G1
nchandra@uwaterloo.ca

1Corresponding author.

ASME doi:10.1115/1.4038439 History: Received November 08, 2016; Revised October 16, 2017

Abstract

Unloader knee braces are prescribed for patients with unicompartmental osteoarthritis of the knee. These braces aim to reduce pain in patients by applying a coronal moment to the knee to unload the symptomatic knee compartment. However, existing unloading mechanisms use straps that go directly behind the knee joint, to apply the needed moment. This can impinge on the popliteal artery and peroneal nerves thereby causing discomfort to the patient. Hence, these braces cannot be worn for prolonged periods of time. This research focused on developing a new knee brace to improve comfort while unloading the osteoarthritic knee. A new knee brace was developed that uses a four-point bending approach to unload the knee. In this brace, unloading can be adjusted and the unloading mechanism is away from the joint. The new brace was tested on a cadaver specimen to quantify its capability to unload the knee compartment. The brace was also worn by a patient with osteoarthritis who subjectively compared it to his existing unloader brace. During cadaver testing, the new brace design could reduce the force exerted on the medial condyle by 25%. Radiographic images of the patient's knee confirmed that the brace unloaded the medial condyle successfully. The patient reported that the new brace reduced pain, was significantly comfortable to wear and could be used for a longer duration in comparison to his existing brace.

Copyright (c) 2017 by ASME
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