Custom knee brace versus off the shelf knee brace?

To answer this question we will examine 2 braces from the same company that both provide support for an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury.

1) Donjoy Fullforce: off the shelf non custom knee brace

2) Donjoy Defiance III: custom knee brace

Learn more about our custom knee braces!

Custom Knee Braces

How are measurements taken to determine the size for each brace?

1. Donjoy Fullforce (off the shelf ACL knee brace):

  • Three circumference measurements are taken, 1) 6 inches above mid knee cap, 2) at mid knee cap, 3) 6 inches below mid knee cap.
  • There are 7 standard sizes based on these three measurements that a patient will fit into from Xsmall to XXXlarge. As shown in the diagram.
  • The sizes in each category are a range of measurements, for example, small thigh circumference is a range from 15.5” – 18.5”.
  • A patient may fit as a small calf and medium thigh because they have larger thigh muscles. In these cases a “best fit” category is selected to try to capture both measurements.
  • An off-the-shelf brace measures the individual to an already created brace, and matches the two.

2. Donjoy Defiance III (custom ACL knee brace):

  • Donjoy Defiance III uses the custom contour measuring instrument (CCMI Mark III) for their specific custom measurements. This device takes into account 14 different anatomical reference points from a patient’s leg to create a much more accurate fitting knee brace.
  • Measurements taken are extremely accurate, measured to the millimeter.
  • Donjoy Defiance III custom knee brace measures thigh to shin angles (varus and valgus).
  • By measuring knee width instead of knee joint circumference (which an off the shelf brace measures) a much more accurate measurement is captured because it simulates the way the brace will fit on an individual.
  • A custom brace fits the brace to the unique measurements of the individual, with no two braces being the same.

What do these braces look like?

1. Fullforce (off the shelf ACL knee brace): similar initial appearance as the Donjoy Defiance custom knee brace, especially for the untrained individual. But at a closer look, there are several differences:

  • It is completely straight when looking at it from the front. This does not capture the thigh to shin knee joint angle. This is what we know as “knock knees” or “bow legged”.
  • The thigh frame is linear. This increases the chance that the inner frame may pinch the groin, especially for shorter individuals.
  • Off the shelf braces often come with a small selection of colors because of their prefabrication. The Donjoy Fullforce off-the-shelf brace comes in only one color.

2. Defiance III (custom ACL knee brace):

  • When looking at this brace from the front, a noticeable angle is seen between the upper and lower part of the brace. Donjoy Defiance measures what we know as “knock knees” or “bow legs”. This is the knee joint angle between the thigh and shin bones known as varus and valgus. It is very rare to have a zero degree joint angle between these bones, a custom measured brace captures this important measurement.
  • The thigh frame has the option of a “swooping thigh”. This prevents any groin pinching from the upper thigh frame because it curves down versus the more linear frame seen on an off-the-shelf knee brace.
  • Custom knee braces often come with more unique colors. The Donjoy Defiance III has over 25 of colors and graphic options.
  • Custom knee braces have many more accessories and modifications such as stronger buckles, added padding, calf guard, different hinge options etc.

To summarize, custom knee braces use a much more detailed system of measurements to create a perfect fitting brace when compared with an off-the-shelf knee brace. As a result, you get the most protection and a reduced risk of further knee damage and injury. Custom knee braces have added features such as more color selection, frame alterations for comfort, added padding and stronger buckles to name a few. If you are looking for the best knee brace for your ligament or cartilage knee injury, a custom knee brace, properly measured is the only way to go.

Get measured for your custom knee brace today!

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