Abstract

This paper presents a knee brace design 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 knee osteoarthritis patients. The concept was tested on one healthy subject during normal gait with a prototype, which 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. Electromyography measurements and musculoskeletal models were used to evaluate the brace effects on muscle activation and knee compressive forces respectively. Simulations predicted an ideal reduction of up to 36%, whereas experimental tests revealed a reduction of up to 24% with the current prototype. The prototype brace also reduced the knee joint force impulse up to 9% and EMG peak signal of the vasti muscles with up to 19%. Due to these reductions on a healthy subject, this bracing approach seem promising for reducing knee loads during normal gait. However, further clinical experiments on knee osteoarthritis patients are required to evaluate the effect on both pain and disease progression.

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