The use of prophylactic knee braces has been hypothesized to protect against valgus-force injury to the knee, but thus far, the evidence has been inconclusive. Offensive linemen in American football are prone to high-energy valgus forces to the knee and associated ligament injuries. The authors (Robert Gallo & colleagues at Penn State) decided to deepen our understanding of the need for these braces.
Should NFL Offensive Linemen Use Prophylactic Knee Braces? A Retrospective Analysis of Usage Trends, Player Performance, and Major Knee Injury.
How did the authors try to tackle this question?
Gallo and his colleagues performed a prospective cohort study from 2014 to 2020, comparing NFL offensive lineman who chose to wear prophylactic knee braces to lineman who did not. They evaluated injury rates as well as performance metrics.
What did the authors find?
Interestingly, the authors reported that from 2014 to 2020, the prevalence of knee brace usage declined linearly, from 16% in 2014 to 5% in 2020.
Additionally, Gallo et found the use of prophylactic knee braces by NFL offensive linemen decreased risk of “major” knee injury, the most common being isolated MCL tears followed by isolated ACL tears.
There was no significant difference between performance metrics between brace users and non-bracers.