Effects of Functional Knee Bracing on Muscle-Firing Patterns about the Chronic Anterior Cruciate Ligament-Deficient Knee

Jay Smith, Gerard A. Malanga, Bing Yu, Kai Nan An

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine the effects of functional knee bracing on the muscle-firing patterns about the chronic anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)-deficient knee in successful brace users. Design: Cross-sectional comparative clinical trial. Setting: Motion analysis laboratory. Participants: Ten active individuals with unilateral, isolated, chronic (>18mo postinjury), ACL-deficient knees who subjectively reported improved function with a functional knee bracing. Intervention: Each subject completed 3 single-leg hop maneuvers on their ACL-deficient knee with and without their knee brace while surface electromyographic activity was recorded from the quadriceps, hamstring, and gastrocnemius muscles. Main Outcome Measure: Muscle onset latency. Results: Brace use significantly delayed the average onset of vastus lateralis activation before landing (123±47ms vs 109±30ms, P<.001), though significant interindividual variations existed. Bracing significantly altered the onset latency in 1 or more muscles in 9 of 10 subjects. In 4 subjects, a favorable change in the firing pattern was seen, whereas only 1 subject exhibited an unfavorable change. Without bracing, 5 of the 10 subjects fired the hamstrings or gastrocnemius muscles first; with bracing, 7 of 10 fired these muscles first. Conclusions: Brace use in this population did not consistently result in more favorable muscle firing patterns during the single-leg hop maneuver. Interindividual responses to brace use indicate the need for further research to investigate the multiple strategies that may exist to stabilize the ACL-deficient knee. In the meantime, functional knee brace use among ACL-deficient patients remains empirical.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1680-1686
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2003


  • Anterior cruciate ligament
  • Braces
  • Proprioception
  • Rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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