Knee Osteoarthritis Brace
David Hunter, M.D., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor – Medicine
Boston University School of Medicine – Rheumatology
New England Baptist Hospital – Chief, Division of Research
Associate Professor – Biomedical Engineering
Boston University – College of Engineering
Osteoarthritis (OA) affects an estimated 21 million Americans. Although this prevalence is high, it is expected to increase even further as the U.S. population ages. Knee osteoarthritis is the most frequent cause of lower limb disability and affects approximately 30% of adults over 55 years of age, two-thirds of whom are women. Safe and effective therapeutic interventions for this disease are limited. This project constitutes an attempt to develop a promising physical treatment modality that may have a large impact on an important public health problem.
The symptoms of knee osteoarthritis are described as mechanical; that is they occur with activity. Attempts to ameliorate the forces in the knee with the use of braces have proven effective in relieving symptoms, and potentially may alter the course of the disease. Their use in clinical practice however is limited. Currently available knee osteoarthritis braces use technology and materials from cruciate deficient knees (typically young athletes) and are often too bulky for older adults (predominantly women are affected by osteoarthritis) to wear comfortably for long periods, and difficult to wear underneath clothing.
OBJECTIVE: To develop a novel brace prototype with the performance of a rigid brace but that is soft, low profile, light-weight, easy to use, and attractive, whilst still being effective at unloading the affected compartment of the knee. The modeling is complete and several prototypes have been fabricated; gait lab testing has shown unloading properties 3x greater than current products.