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The Effects of a Knee-Brace on the Mobility of Older Adults with Osteoarthritis

Keywords: Mobility, osteoarthritis, knee brace, function, walking tasks, stairs

In collaboration with: Gerontology Research Centre, Simon Fraser University

Overview of Research

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a progressive degenerative condition, which becomes more prevalent with age. OA most frequently affects persons over 45; this prevalence dramatically increases for older adults over the age of 55, where it is estimated that 70% of this age group show radiographic evidence of OA (Sowers, 2001).

OA is particularly disabling when the knees are affected. OA of the knee often results in decreases in mobility and the ability to perform basic tasks such as walking, standing up from a chair, going up and down stairs, or getting dressed. As a result, it is one of the most significant causes of pain and physical disability in older adults.

The mechanics of "healthy" walking on a level surface are well understood and characterized, and several studies have also analyzed the mechanics of stair walking and inclined surfaces (Andriacchi, Andersson, et al., 1980; McFadyen & Winter, 1988); with a limited number of studies focussing on the effects of OA on these walking conditions (Kaufman, Hughes, Morrey, Morrey & An, 2001). However, none of these studies have determined the effects of a knee brace on the walking mechanics of stair climbing and inclined surfaces for older adults with OA.

The objective of this project is to investigate the potential of the Ortho Active knee brace in improving independence of older adults with medial compartment OA by reducing the amount of pain experienced during typical daily activities. Specifically, this study will evaluate the effectiveness of this new brace in reducing pain and restoring regular gait in older adult users while walking on level ground, sloped inclines, and negotiating stairs.

Funding Sources

National Research Council - Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP)

OrthoActive Appliances Ltd.

Research Team

Alex Mihailidis, Ph.D. P.Eng. (University of Toronto)

Yvette Jones, M.Sc. (Simon Fraser University)

Teena Love (Simon Fraser University)