Investigation of bracing to unload muscle and knee contact forces for knee osteoarthritis patients

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(Jonas Stoltze, PhD candidate, Aalborg University, 01. February, 2022 )

Mechanical devices are common treating methods for knee osteoarthritis (KOA), and various brace methods have been proposed. This webcast presents results on how internal knee joint forces depend on applied external moments during gait, which can provide useful information for improving the treatment with knee braces. Musculoskeletal models were used to simulate applied joint moments about different joint axes to investigate the effect on the total, medial and lateral knee compressive force. These results were used to develop a knee brace prototype that applies an extension moment to unload the muscles in stance phase during gait, and thereby the knee, as alternative to conventional valgus braces for KOA patients. The prototype was designed to activate and deactivate in order to apply the extension moment in the stance phase only and hereby avoid any interference during the swing phase. The concept has been tested on one healthy subject and one KOA patient during normal gait using electromyography measurements and musculoskeletal models to evaluate the brace effects on muscle activation and knee compressive forces respectively. The results so far have been promising but the prototype needs to be tested on more patients to draw conclusions on the effect on both pain and disease progression.

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