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What Are the Different Types of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Braces?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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People who suffer injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) often end up wearing braces for athletic activities after the surgery or treatment for the injury. Several types of anterior cruciate ligament braces exist, and the best one will depend on the severity of the injury and the types of activities in which the injured person is likely to participate. A store bought compression brace, for example, may be sufficient for some ACL injury sufferers, while more severe injuries will require anterior cruciate ligament braces with hinges and metal supports.

The ACL is the most commonly injured ligament in the knee, and most tears will require surgery to repair. Minor injuries to the ACL may not require surgery, and in this case, anterior cruciate ligament braces are not always necessary. If they are necessary, a person may purchase a store bought compression brace made from neoprene or nylon; this brace will provide some support and it will promote blood flow to the knee. Blood flow ensures oxygen delivery, which in turn promotes healing and overall strength of the ligament. This type of brace is not designed to prevent lateral movement of the knee; other anterior cruciate ligament braces are designed to restrict lateral movement, though these braces will be more expensive.

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Anterior cruciate ligament braces with hinges and metal supports are designed to restrict lateral movement of the knee while still allowing normal forward and backward movement. These braces feature structural apparatuses that press against the thigh above the knee and the shin below the knee; the metal supports run on either side of the knee as well, and they are hinged to allow normal movement. The braces are not always made of metal; they can be made of other materials such as plastic or carbon fiber as well. The key is to use a material that is lightweight and strong; athletes are likely to use carbon fiber braces because they are lightweight and rigid, but these anterior cruciate ligament braces will also be the most expensive options.

The pivot point of the hinge is also likely to be padded, and it will press inward against the knee to provide added support and compression. Some designs feature a solid structure from the thigh down to the shin, rather than just hard structures placed periodically along the length of the apparatus. Others feature straps and padding that keep the skeleton of the brace in place.

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