Reduced pain and increased activity through use of the Unloader® One OA knee brace adds up to a better quality of life.
Overall, active patients demonstrated a significant decrease in pain and disability. Patients saw improvement in the physical component of their quality of life score. These patients had expectations to improve their ability to participate in recreational sports.
Most patients improved or maintained their activity level. This led to a high patient satisfaction with the treatment option. Braces specifically designed to unload the degenerative compartment of the knee can be an effective treatment to decrease pain and maintain activity level to increase overall physical health.
This study also revealed that patients expected to perform recreational activities and maintain general health following bracing. Both of these were improved when patients wore the brace. This study also showed that patients expected improvement in their ability to participate in recreational activities. It was very important for patients to avoid future degeneration of the knee and to be able to maintain their general health.
Lack of knowledge of expectations can lead to inappropriate treatment, decreased patient satisfaction, and failure to return for subsequent treatment or elective surgery. By identification of patients’ expectations, better clinical and surgical care may be provided, and communication between physicians and patients may improve. Few studies have looked at patient expectations. Mancuso et al validated the expectation questionnaire for use following arthroscopy. To date, few articles have reported findings using these patient-expectation questions.
Limitations of this study include a patient selection bias due to the fact that the study was conducted at one referral center. Most patients were active and highly motivated to remain active. Lack of longer term follow-up is also a limitation of this study. The study was limited to 6 months to see early changes in quality of life. This information could then be used for patient education to improve compliance and longer use. The long term effects of the unloader brace are unknown. Tracking compliance of brace use was also limited in this study. All patients reported using the brace; however, it is unclear how much the brace was worn. Most patients were candidates for TKA and consequently were prescribed NSAIDs as that is part of standard of care for conservative treatment at this clinic.
Improvement in Quality of Life with Use of an Unloader Knee Brace in Active Patients with OA: A Prospective Cohort Study, Briggs KK, Matheny LM, Steadman JR. J Knee Surg. 2012 Nov;25(5):417-21. doi: 10.1055/s-0032-1313748. Epub 2012 May 21.