Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Functional Brace

I have love/hate feelings toward my functional ACL brace. I remember when I first heard about the brace. It was during my 12 week post-op visit. My fabulous surgeon came in and looked at my knee. He then shook my hand and told me to call him if I ever needed any other surgery. He is the surgeon for the local minor league hockey and baseball teams so I guess he gets a lot of repeat clients. I informed him, in a nice way, that I was hoping that I would never see him again. He then proceeded to tell me that I would need to be fitted for a functional brace to be worn for 1 year during karate. I was surprised because the main reason I had the surgery was so I DID NOT have to wear a brace.

A few weeks later I got the call that my brace was ready. I was told that I needed to come in for a fitting and to make sure that I knew how to put the brace on. When I arrived at my fitting I sat down and waited for the man to bring out the brace. When he pulled the brace out of the very nice carrying case my jaw must have dropped to the floor. This brace was not that much smaller than my post-op brace. When I tried it on it went mid-thigh to mid-calf. It was not what I expected at all. I am not sure what I expected but it was definitely not that. I left it in the bag for about two weeks, I did not even want to look at it. This was the only time that I questioned my decision to have the surgery. I felt defeated.

Eventually I took the brace out of the bag and headed to the dojo. It felt awkward at first but it provided an amazing sense of security. Even though the brace is physically protecting my knee it gave me an emotional/mental boost. When I am in class I sometimes forget that I am wearing an ACL brace. When the time comes, I wonder if I will have a hard time letting it go.


BobSpar said...


I also wonder how I'll do at letting go of the brace. I may consider wearing it for contact sparring and grappling--there's a padded sleeve that fits around it--after I've taken it off for our "core" class, which is most like karate.

I agree with you, maybe half the benefit is the psychological feeling of security wearing the brace!

Hack Shaft said...

I'm not expecting a brace post-op. My surgeon believes, as Bob mentions, that the main benefit is psychological.

Considering the magnitude and type of forces involved, functional braces can't guarantee against re-injury.

Trust your body to tell you what you can and can't do, though. Keep on blogging, keep on learning, and keep taking it one step at a time.