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J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2013 Apr;23(2):490-500. doi: 10.1016/j.jelekin.2012.10.007. Epub 2012 Nov 9.

Influence of a valgus knee brace on muscle activation and co-contraction in patients with medial knee osteoarthritis.

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Institute of Biomechanics and Orthopaedics, German Sport University Cologne, Germany.


The purpose of this study was to analyse the effect of a valgus knee orthosis designed for patients with knee osteoarthritis on the electromyographic activity (EMG) of seven muscles of the lower limb during gait. Twelve patients with medial knee osteoarthritis walked on a treadmill in three different conditions: without orthosis, with a knee orthosis in 4° valgus adjustment and with an orthosis in a neutral flexible adjustment. Root-mean-square (RMS) was analysed in each condition during a 150 ms pre-activation phase and during the stance phase of gait, which was divided in four sub-phases. In addition, co-contraction ratios (CCRs) were calculated between extensor/flexor, medial/lateral muscles and between agonist and antagonist muscle pairs. Significant decreases in muscle activity and CCRs were observed with the use of the knee orthosis in both adjustments compared to the condition without orthosis. Using the valgus brace, medial/lateral CCR decreased significantly during the late stance and the flexor/extensor CCR decreased significantly during the loading phase and late stance. Decreases of muscle pairs CCRs were observed with the neutral flexible adjustment. The results support the theory of a possible beneficial effect of knee braces in reducing knee loading by decreasing muscle activation and co-contraction levels, which could contribute to decelerate disease progression in patients with knee osteoarthritis.

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