December 2016

Clinical study confirms benefits of Townsend’s OA bracing technology

By LER Staff

For any medical professional who questions whether or not osteoarthritis (OA) braces work, a study published in two respected O&P journals proves Townsend’s OA bracing technology achieves substantial mechanical unloading, statistically significant pain reduction, and significant improvements in activity level and overall quality of life.

Original research published in the Journal of Prosthetics and Orthotics and Prosthetics and Orthotics International described outcomes in patients who wore the Rebel Reliever at least six hours a day for six months. A multitude of benefits began as early as two weeks after fitting, increased after two months, and continued to produce significant results throughout the six months the patients were tracked.

Conducted by independent researchers at Stony Brook University in New York, the study tracked a group of patients with Kellgren-Lawrence scale classification of 2, 3 or 4, and a body mass index ranging from 24-49 (average 35). As such, these patients had significant deterioration of bone and tissues inside the knee, and were overweight. The resulting pain caused by compartment compression and malalignment of the leg substantially impacted their mobility and quality of life.

“This was an independent clinical study. Townsend provided funding, but our company was not involved in patient recruitment, had no role in the testing, and we never had access to the data. The researchers enrolled patients who had significant OA and daily pain,” said Rick Riley, Townsend’s CEO. “The Rebel Reliever wasn’t a new brace. We had sold it for nearly a decade and had great testimonials from hundreds of patients, orthotists and physicians about the benefits achieved by the brace. But some doctors and medical professionals want clinical evidence.”

“This clinical study demonstrated the Rebel Reliever achieved, on average, a remarkable 36% unloading effect during the gait cycle. Patients also reported a significant decrease in pain at the same time their activity level and daily walking distance were increasing.”

—CEO Rick Riley

Patients were initially put through a series of tests without the brace. They also completed a baseline survey of their existing pain and functionality using the Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS). Each patient was fit by a certified prosthetist orthotist selected by the researchers, who adjusted the brace and instructed patients on how to put it on correctly. The patients repeated the same testing procedures after two weeks and two months of daily use.

The primary testing included instrumented gait analysis using a 12-camera motion capture system, with patients walking at a self-selected pace over floor-mounted force plates with reflective markers attached to their leg and the brace. Secondary tests included a walking distance assessment, comparing how far each patient walked in six minutes without the brace, and then when wearing the brace. There was also a balance assessment with and without the brace, and testing of muscle performance of the knee flexor and extensors on the osteoarthritic side of the knee. Additionally, each brace was retrofitted with a distance-measuring device to determine how far the patient walked each day while wearing the brace. Patients were asked to complete a daily log to record the distance. Patients also completed the KOOS survey at set intervals to determine their perception of how the brace was contributing to a reduction in pain and improvements to their activity level and overall quality of life.

“This clinical study demonstrated the Rebel Reliever achieved, on average, a remarkable 36% unloading effect during the gait cycle. Patients also reported a significant decrease in pain at the same time their activity level and daily walking distance were increasing,” said Riley.

To address each patient’s individual needs, body type and age, Townsend offers an industry-leading range of OA braces. The same core concepts and technology utilized in the fabrication of the Rebel Reliever are incorporated into the design and construction of Townsend’s Reliever Series, which includes nine different OA brace designs. These unloading-type braces all feature adjustable corrective force, proprietary hinge motion, and exclusive brace suspension technology. All of Townsend’s OA braces are made in the U.S.

The company’s newest OA braces, the Active Reliever and the Dynamic Reliever, are designed for older patients with features like quick-release buckles that make the brace easier to put on. These braces also feature a semi-rigid single-hinge construction that makes the braces more comfortable and lower profile.

“I think it is generally known, especially among O&P professionals, that Townsend is the go-to company that can handle extremely obese patients and severe varus or valgus deformities. We excel at finding solutions for the most challenging physical anomalies and mobility issues,” said James Cobb, CPO, who directs Townsend’s Specialty Bracing Department.

In addition to having the industry’s most extensive custom fabrication capabilities, Townsend is the only manufacturer that makes “customized” off-the-shelf (OTS) aluminum knee braces from three leg measurements instead of just a thigh circumference measurement.

“A lot of patients don’t have proportionally-sized legs, especially OA patients. That’s why we allow our customers to provide three leg measurements so we can individually make each brace to intimately fit the thigh, knee and calf,” said Joe Hernandez, a fabrication director at Townsend with nearly 20 years on the job. “Our Rebel Reliever OA brace, and our Rebel ACL brace, are the best-fitting OTS braces on the market, because they are essentially a custom brace at a presized price.”

Article sponsored by Townsend Design.

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