Differences Between Custom & Non-Custom Knee Braces

We will look at 2 braces from the same company (Donjoy) that both are considered ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) supportive braces. One is a non-custom or off-the-shelf product, the other is custom made. There are other non-custom knee braces of much lesser quality than the example in this article. The purpose of this article is to compare the best possible non-custom product that is similar to its custom product, so the exact differences can be seen. 

1) Non-Custom: Donjoy Fullforce
Donjoy Full Force
2) Custom: Donjoy Defiance
Donjoy Defiance Black

How Are Measurements Taken to Determine your Brace Size?

1) Non-Custom: Donjoy Fullforce

  • 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 possible brace sizes based on these three measurements: 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”
  • Each brace size can come in 2 different lengths, a standard calf or a short calf (1″ shorter from the bottom)
  • There is no joint width or knee joint angle measurement taken, this non-custom brace is always built straight
  • A “best fit” brace is selected, based on the client’s measurements and matched to an already created brace
Donjoy Non-Custom Brace Sizes

2) Custom: Donjoy Defiance

  • Donjoy Defiance uses the Donjoy Custom Contour Measuring Instrument (CCMI Mark III) to take measurements
  • This device takes into account 14 anatomical reference points to create a perfect fitting brace
  • It measures exact circumferences (thigh and calf), exact knee joint width and exact thigh to shin knee angle
  • Measurements taken are extremely accurate, measured to the millimeter
  • There are 4 brace length options, standard and short calf as well as standard and short thigh frames  (1″ shorter from the top)
  • A custom brace is manufactured based on the client’s exact measurements to create a perfect fitting brace 
Donjoy CCMI Device

What are the Visual Differences Between a Non-Custom & Custom Brace?

1) Non-Custom: Donjoy Fullforce

  • It is built with a straight frame when looking at it from the front, this does not capture thigh to shin knee joint angle (known as knock knees and bow legged or varus and valgus)
  • There is only 1 thigh frame length available which may not fit a shorter or longer legged individual
  • The frame is made of aircraft grade aluminum, which is an excellent material, but it is more flexible and not as strong
  • This brace only comes in one color option

2) Custom: Donjoy Defiance

  • This custom brace measures knee joint angle, capturing varus/valgus measures
  • 2 thigh frame length options can be selected (short and standard) to best fit the leg length of the individual
  • Carbon composite metal is used which is more durable, non-flexible and extremely strong, adding more support and protection
  • Custom knee braces come with more colors options, the Donjoy Defiance has over 30 frame color options 



What are Some Other Differences?

1) Non-Custom: Donjoy Fullforce

  • Non-custom warranties will usually vary from 30 days to 1 year depending on the manufacturer
  • The Donjoy Fullforce comes with a 1 year manufacturer warranty on the frame and hinges and a 6 month warranty on the soft material items (straps, liners, etc.)
  • Non-custom products often will not have as many accessories options available

2) Custom: Donjoy Defiance

  • Custom knee brace warranties are often better
  • The Donjoy Defiance comes with a lifetime manufacturer warranty on the frame and hinges and a 6 month warranty on the soft material items (straps, liners, etc.)
  • Many more accessories and modifications can be made with custom knee braces to suit the individuals needs

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, non custom knee brace. Every measurement and angle will be made to match your unique shape, leg length, and musculature. As a result, you get the most protection, comfort and a reduced risk of further knee damage and injury. Custom made knee braces have added features such as better warranties, more color options, frame alterations for comfort, added padding and stronger buckles to name a few. If you are looking for the best possible brace with the most protection, a custom measured one is your best option.

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