DonJoy ACL Brace


I get so many questions from readers about which brace they should use for given injuries that I decided to try to come up with a definitive guide. I’m using the DonJoy ACL Brace as the example only to help with consistency across one brand and because they are the dominant supplier in this space.

The aim is to simplify the array of choice available to the consumer who needs to find a brace to prevent, support or rehabilitate a knee injury – specifically an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury.

As a sufferer of an ACL injury that required reconstructive surgery, I can attest to the confusing terms used on both distributor and manufacturer websites. Part of the reason for this is that these distributors and manufacturers are used to dealing with Physical Therapists and have consequently allowed the use of jargon to permeate their marketing despite the increased trend for consumers to purchase knee braces direct.

Before getting into the specific offerings from DonJoy, let’s address some of the jargon. The knee brace is obviously worn around the knee and its function can be threefold.

1)    To prevent knee injuries occurring. The jargon used here is “prophylactic”. No I can’t pronounce it either! These braces are often used in contact sports and there is conflicting evidence as to whether they do actually prevent injuries occurring.

2)    For support purposes while waiting for healing of the injury to occur. These types of brace are called “rehabilitation” braces and, for ACL injuries, are typically used in the time between the injury occurring and surgery occurring. These types of brace can limit or restrict movement altogether. The model I used was the DonJoy TROM Adjuster Hinged Knee Brace.

3)    To support a knee that has been injured and may still have some form of instability. These are called “functional” knee braces. For people who have recovered from an ACL injury and are returning to high impact/contact sports (skiing is a great example) then a functional knee brace can also provide a mental crutch for that first season on the slopes post-injury.

DonJoy provides a variety of knee ligament braces to address the “functional” requirements of each of the ligaments in the knee. The product ranges are as follows:

•    Defiance
•    Armor
•    4TITUDE
•    Legend
•    Playmaker

In terms of strength and severity of injury supported, they are broadly ranked above in order (from strongest to weakest). A note on each here (and specifically the unique qualities/uses of each) and then each range is covered in more detail on its own page.


The Defiance is an extremely strong functional brace whose carbon fiber offers light weight (18 oz) and a low profile so that it can be used under sports uniforms. It is the only brace that is custom made which means you would only use this brace if prescribed and fitted by a trained Physical Therapist. The Defiance range is targeted at moderate to severe instabilities in the ACL, PCL, MCL or LCL. It is also available with an anterior thigh strap for combined instabilities (CI) meaning combined ACL and PCL instabilities.


The Armor range provides a combined functional/prophylactic brace. It is extremely strong and designed for contact/extreme sports. It also comes in a shortened calf model that is aimed specifically at the ski market. It is not as light as the Defiance range but I use the Ski version myself and it is unobtrusive and gives great support, both mental and physical, when returning to the slopes after ACL reconstruction. The Armor is available in an ACL, PCL and CI design.


The 4TITUDE is a functional knee brace for mild to severe ACL/PCL injuries as well as the most severe MCL/LCL injuries. As an ACL brace it is not suitable for a return to contact sports. It does however offer the lowest profile of all the DonJoy knee ligament functional braces.


The Legend is a low profile brace suitable for contact sports but specifically designed for a return to water sports, both fresh and salt water.


The Playmaker range is primarily designed for MCL/LCL injuries but will also offer functional support for mild to moderate ACL/PCL injuries. This is the brace to select for the mildest of strains. It comes in several designs including different materials for those who may have an allergic reaction to neoprene.

Check back for the next posts which will include more detailed information on each of the ranges.