Orthopedic braces are medical devices designed to address musculoskeletal issues; they are used to properly align, correct the position, support, stabilize, and protect certain parts of the body (particularly the muscles, joints, and bones) as they heal from injury or trauma. These medical devices are often prescribed for the patient to wear during the process of recovery and rehabilitation.
It is important to note, however, that orthopaedic braces should not be worn without the advice or recommendation of a doctor and an orthotist, who is a clinician responsible for prescribing, manufacturing, managing, and monitoring orthopaedic braces and other orthoses.
Orthopaedic braces can be used in various ways. They can be prescribed to stop limbs, specific segments of the body, or joints from moving for a predetermined period. This can be very important in facilitating proper recovery and positioning as the affected body part heals. Braces are often recommended for restricting and assisting general movement, removing weight from healing or injured joints and muscles, and correcting the shape and function to reduce pain and facilitate improved mobility. Patients who have suffered from fractures or broken bones can also be prescribed orthopaedic braces to aid in musculoskeletal rehabilitation.
Who uses them?
Patients are generally referred to an orthotist by their primary care physicians or general practitioners. Patients who have suffered from injuries, such as sprains, fractures, pulled muscles, dislocated joints, and broken bones can benefit from wearing orthopaedic braces.
Sports-related injuries are rising with the growing number of sports activities. Athletes are focused on fitness-related activities such as running, cycling, and others. While gaining health benefits through such activities, they are likely to sustain injuries, which can further lead to ligament injury. Indoor athletes are at high risk for ankle ligament tear. Hence, they are expected to generate substantial demand for ankle braces. In addition, ankle braces are recommended by the orthopedicians post an acute ankle sprain.
Athletes also use orthopedic braces to protect themselves from further injury during sports activities. It helps them restrict unwanted movement during matches, thereby, facilitating a convenient play.
Geriatric population is considered as one of the highest contributors to demand for orthopedic braces and supports. This population is highly susceptible to musculoskeletal disorders. Bones and connecting tissues, such as ligaments and cartilages, naturally weaken with growing age. This poses high risk for muscle injury mainly in knees and shoulders of the elderly. This further stiffens the joints, which raises the need for braces and supports to improve mobility. (Grandview Research, 2019)
After wearing these medical devices during the period prescribed by the doctor, the patient is expected to gain full function and mobility in the affected area.
Not following the doctor’s instructions or wearing orthopaedic braces without proper prescription can result to further injuries or risk to the patient.
What are the types of braces?
Orthopaedic braces are generally divided into two categories, depending on the location of its application: upper and lower limb. Braces on the upper limb can be applied to the shoulders, collarbones, the arms, elbows, wrists, hands, and fingers. Lower limb braces, on the other hand, can be fitted over the feet, ankles, knees, and legs. Braces can also be prescribed, designed, and manufactured to correct spinal position in patients with scoliosis.
How Is the Procedure Performed?
Procedures for orthopaedic braces all begin similarly. A primary care physician will refer the patient to an orthotist to have the proper braces fitted according to whatever is required by the patient’s treatment plan.
The orthotist and primary care physician will also recommend a specific period of time for the patient to wear the braces.
If you think you might benefit from wearing a brace, please call us at 954-979-3255 to make an appointment with us in our Margate, FL location. We are here to help!
- Canale ST, Beaty JH, eds. Campbell’s Operative Orthopaedics. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2007.
- Silverstein JA, Moeller JL, Hutchinson MR. Common issues in orthopedics. In: Rakel RE, ed. Textbook of Family Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 30.
- Musculoskeletal disorders. In:Frontera, WR, Silver JK, Rizzo TD Jr, eds. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2008:chap 1-88.