Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physical Therapy (MPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Beverly Johnson


Braces; Knee Injuries -- rehabilitation; Knee Injuries -- therapy


Functional knee braces are intended to provide stability to the unstable knee joint. The purpose of this literature review is to examine available research on functional knee braces in order to summarize their effects and efficacy.

Research indicates that the most effective brace for controlling abnormal knee motions would be a custom designed shell brace with rigid straps and a polycentric hinge. However, individual characteristics of the wearer must also be considered.

Subjective research indicates that functional knee braces improve function and provide support for the unstable knee. However, these findings do not correlate with objective findings.

Results of biomechanical research show that braces are effective when subjected to low forces, but their effectiveness decreases as the loads increase. Objective functional analysis demonstrates that wearing a knee brace can ultimately impair performance by increasing energy and oxygen consumption and by changing neuromuscular control patterns.

Effects and efficacy of functional knee bracing remains controversial and the choice of whether or not to brace should be up to the individual.