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The purpose of the present study was to investigate the effect of different construction materials on the ability of a prophylactic brace to reduce the stresses sustained by a surrogate medial collateral ligament (MCL) under low-energy repetitive impact conditions.
A surrogate leg was fixed at both the hip and foot with the knee in full extension. A prophylactic brace was attached to the surrogate leg and the system struck by an impactor weighing either 6.68 kg or 16.9 kg.
A single brace design (Am Pro Knee Guard) was used. Three different materials (nylon, aluminum, graphite) were used in constructing the brace uprights.
Tension in the MCL was measured under all conditions of brace material and impactor weight. In addition, the impact impulse response of the system was evaluated.
The graphite and aluminum uprights showed significant reductions in both MCL peak tension magnitude (from 12 to 21% improvement) and in the impulse response of the MCL (from 36 to 47% improvement) when compared to the no-brace condition.
The present study indicates that the choice of brace upright material does have a significant effect on the transmission and absorption of low-level repetitive impact forces at the MCL and should be an important consideration in the design of better knee braces.