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ACL Braces

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I'm coming off of left knee surgery-- (ACL Reconstruction using my patellar tendon) this past April.

I haven't bought a brace yet. Obviously, I'll be asking my doctor for advice, but I was wondering if any of you had any suggestions re: brands, types, etc. that have worked well for you skiing after ACL surgery.

I did a little research on the web. It looks like they run $250-$600 depending on the model. Did your medical insurance pay for it? I noticed some of the braces require a prescription, so I'm wondering if insurance is more likely to pay for one of those. Or if you also use it during P.T., it seems like they'd be more likely to pay for it.

Cost isn't a major issue. Obviously, your health isn't a place for skimping, but was curious about the cost aspect.

My main concerns are function during skiing-- i.e. doesn't hamper your ability to ski difficult terrain. Also, safety is an issue i.e. one that will best prevent reinjury (short of staying off the slopes!). In fact, does a brace really do much to prevent reinjury or is its primary function making the knee feel more stable? If it does help prevent injury, I'm tempted to also get one for my right (good) leg! Once in a lifetime is more enough for this whole rehab experience.

Also, has anyone used the Lange V9 boot? More importantly, has anyone torn their ACL while wearing it?!

On this same subject, if you save your old Skiing magazines, the Dec. 2000 issue has a good article about ACL injuries p. 117. I never used to pay attention to those articles (thought I was young and invicible), but I wish I had. My fall was the classic "phantom foot" fall the article describes. It's wild how it wasn't that "bad" of a fall, but if you fall at the wrong angle it's bad news for your ACL. Hint: fall sideways, not leaning straight back over your tails.

Any response is appreciated.


-- I've seen some mentions of Bob's ACL board. I think I saw it when I first had my surgery, but don't remember the URL. So if someone could post that, it would be great. Thanks for the responses so far, they've been helpful.
post #2 of 9
Dear Wags,
I had ACL surgery April '00, and also by harvesting my patellar tendon. My well-known Boston surgeon does not believe in braces, but I have heard that insurance companies WILL pay for them IF you promise to always wear it while skiing.
(Without a brace), I returned skiing last December 3rd,'00, and skied 39 days last season. My knee was sore at the beginning of the season, but the pain subsided by March. It takes 18 months for the patellar to grow back.
I trust you have read Bob's ACL board...
Good luck.
Lisa :
post #3 of 9
LisaH: I've had that discussion. You can usually talk that well-known Boston orthopedic surgeon (I presume you mean Bert Zarins?) into a brace. I opted to not do the ACL reconstruction. I've been skiing with fully torn ACLs in both knees for 20 years. Wet boat decks suck without ACLs but I don't have any problems skiing if I keep good angulation.

I use the CTI-II brace and used to use the Lenox Hill brace for years. I have the ski boot attachment to keep it from moving around. My medical insurance paid for it. It's a custom brace and I got fitted at the orthopedic shop at Mass General Hospital. It was something of an ordeal to get a brace that fit properly. The first time, MGH took a plaster cast of my leg. The brace came back huge... very sloppy. I skied the season with it anyway because I didn't want to wait the month to get another one. I went in over the summer and got resized using leg measurements instead of a cast. The new brace came in with the lower part tilted outwards 30 degrees.... completely unusable. They took yet more measurements and sent it back. It's now right but there was much finger pointing between the techs at MGH and the company in California.

My advice. If you go for a custom brace and are using the measurement method instead of the plaster cast method, have the tech do the entire set of measurements twice. Photocopy the results and hang on to them.
post #4 of 9
Victim of fully blown ACL on each leg, and reconstruction of each (R = 1985, L = 1999). I have used a large number of braces in my athletic endeavors. The best I've found is the BREG, which I use on my left knee. I use a Townsend on the right knee. If I thought my insurance would cover it, I would get a BREG for the right knee too.

Bob's Knee Board is pretty helpful, but there are decided brace biases in there. I'm not sure the biases are rightly reasoned. When I saw the strong favoritism toward the CTI, I talked to my orthopod about it. He said that "the CTI is okay, but it's not as good as the BREG." He does LOTS of ACL repair, primarily on very athletic people (top amateur athletes throughout the Northern Rockies), and has tried every major brace mfr at one point or another. His conclusion? The BREG beats them all. [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #5 of 9
Blew my left ACL in '84. Luckily (or not), my ACLs were so stretched from 10 years of football and two motorcycle accidents, my ACL snapped instead of exploding. The doc went in on both sides, uncurled the ends, and reattached them together. I still have my ACL, but it's shorter and keeps me from getting full flexion. I started out with the Lenox Hill, and then got a CTI II. Both were paid for by insurance. I used them both for the first few seasons after my surgery. They worked great for me. However, after I rehabbed my quad muscles, I stopped using them altogether. If you keep your legs in shape, which will stabilize your knee, you probably won't have to use the brace forever.
post #6 of 9
You are impressive to be able to ski well without your ACL's! Tell me, why did you not have the surgery? I was told I could only "ski modestly" without my ACL. I do not regret the surgery and the pain meds were great.
post #7 of 9
Who said I ski well? [img]smile.gif[/img]

As far as I can tell, ACLs only are needed when your leg is fully extended. I just make sure I ski with my friggin' knees bent and keep my legs strong. I got both knees scoped when they tore the first time... they both had complete "mop tears" but I opted for going the conservative route. Bert Zarins at Mass General is my body repair shop and he's talked me into putting off reconstruction as long as I can still ski OK. He has stapled a ligament back on to the bone in my shoulder.

They'll let go once in a while. I tore the right one in 1980 and it let go at Steamboat in 1998 in the middle of a perfectly normal turn in the bumps but my leg was fully extended. I tore the left one in 1982. Trashed it again in 1986 in a back seat twisting fall and got a Lenox Hill because it was somewhat unstable. It's since let go twice on wet slippery surfaces and once skiing but the skiing one was yet another back seat twisting fall. When it lets go, I get some swelling and loss of range of motion. I just rest it and take lots o' Vitamin I (Ibuprofin). I'm usually back skiing in 3 or 4 weeks.
post #8 of 9
As everyone else has mentioned, insurance companies will usually pick up the cost of a brace if you have a prescription. But- it depends on your benefits with durable medical equipment (DME). Speak with a representative with your company. A word of advice, if it is a go, start now. It will take time to get measured and get the order completed. Sometimes it is quick, sometimes it is not. Get it done before the new year and new insurance deductible. It has to be received before 12/31/01.
The best company, everyone has an opinion. Talk with your MD and PT and so forth. Townsend, Don-Joy, Breg, etc... are all good. I personally have a CTI-II which I like. Make sure it will accomodate for a ski boot.
Lange V9. Not sure. I put a question out there awhile ago and never got a "good" response. I don't think there is enough research to back anything up at this point. Especially with "re-injury"
There is reseach out there regarding the efficacy of braces. Yes, you can still re-blow it with a brace on. Sometimes muscle function is altered. You will just have to get a feel for it. Maybe it will only be a reminder. If it works, great!
During skiing- be aware of your first sharp short radius turns or a quick hockey stops. You may be sent like a sling shot. Be gentle....
Good luck.
post #9 of 9
Maybe you vould also get the insurance companys to pay for that Lange boot?
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