Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Knee News

Bracing for ACL Action

So, you've had an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. And you've had surgery to repair the damage. Should you wear a brace during sports activities after surgery or not? This is the topic of a study done on 100 ACL patients from three US military service academies.

Cadets and midshipmen were divided into two groups: with and without bracing. All patients had a simple ACL tear without damage to the cartilage, bone, or other ligaments. Everyone had the same surgery within the first eight weeks after the injury. Everyone followed the same rehab program after surgery. The brace users wore the brace for one year during activities with cutting, pivoting, or jumping motions.

Patients were followed for at least two years. Results were measured by looking at motion, strength, and return to full activity. X-rays were taken and any further injuries recorded. The study showed no difference between the two groups. Some patients felt more confident while wearing the brace but the number of re-injuries between the groups was the same.

Bracing the knee during activity after ACL repair is common. The authors of this study have shown it may not be needed for young, active patients. They think better methods of surgery and faster rehab have improved ACL results. This study supports the findings of other research that shows that braces have no effect on outcome after ACL repair.


Edward R. McDevitt, CPT (Retired), MC, USN, et al. Functional Bracing after Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. December 2004. Vol. 32. No. 8. Pp. 1887-1882.

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