Bracing after ACL Reconstruction: A Systematic Review

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Bracing after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction for rehabilitation and functional return to activities has been a common practice. Clinicians have believed braces improve the outcome of ACL reconstruction by improving extension, decreasing pain and graft strain, and providing protection from excessive force. However, we hypothesized the use of these braces could not be rationalized by evidence of improved outcome including measurements of pain, range of motion, graft stability, or protection from injury. Several randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have been performed to address these issues. This study represents a systematic review of the Level I evidence (12 RCTs) to determine if appropriate evidence exists to support brace use. We found no evidence that pain, range of motion, graft stability, or protection from subsequent injury were affected by brace use, thus supporting our hypothesis.Level of Evidence: Level I, therapeutic study. See Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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