DonJoy Armor

The DonJoy Armor is designed to provide both functional and prophylactic bracing. Functional bracing refers to the support required post-injury when the patient is returning to normal activities but where some degree of joint instability may still exist. Prophylactic bracing is intended to prevent a knee injury occurring in the first place.

It is surprising to me that the Armor is counted in the prophylactic bracket. This is a chunky piece of equipment and I’d be surprised that anyone who had not already suffered an ACL tear would select this brace to prevent injury occurring in the first place. There are other sleeve type braces that would be a first port of call for preventing injuries before turning to this contraption. Having said, for those who have torn an ACL (or in my case an ACL together with the MCL and LCL) and are looking for functional support, this is exactly the friend I need to give me the mental confidence to return to sports (which in my case is Alpine skiing).

In fact, DonJoy’s own marketing of the Armor range refers to the brace providing an “indestructible shield” whose extreme strength and protection will provide the returning athlete with the mental confidence to go all out, even in contact/extreme sports. Given that the Armor comes in a shortened calf model it is ideally suited for skiers.

Indeed it has been demonstrated that using a brace when returning to sports can significantly reduce the chances of re-injury. For example, in a study of professional skiers who had torn their ACL’s, the use of a brace was shown to reduce the chances of re-injury by 2.74 in men and 3.4 in women compared to those not wearing a brace. This research was presented at the 2004 gathering of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine.

The DonJoy Armor is designed for the functional support of moderate to severe ACL, PCL and combined instabilities. It is also stated in the DonJoy marketing materials that the Armor is an option for MCL/LCL instabilities. However, as I mentioned for the Defiance, this is really overkill – the Playmaker probably being a better solution of MCL/LCL instabilities.

The purpose of an ACL brace is to support the recovering ligament by applying the appropriate directional forces at the appropriate time based on movement. These forces are different for each ligament so it is extremely important to make sure you use an ACL brace if your instability is related to the ACL.

The Armor is heavier than the Defiance range (it uses a steel reinforced hinge plate for additional strength) but utilizes the same patented, 4 Points-of-Leverage technology. It is available off the shelf whereas the Defiance is custom made. This means that the Armor can be self-prescribed, i.e. without the help of a Physical Therapist. The sizing charts on the various distributor websites are very useful requiring three measurements, the knee circumference, the calf six inches below the knee and the thigh six inches above. Clearly, if there are any anomalies in the measurements and resultant uncertainty over which size brace to buy, it is the measurement of the knee joint that trumps all others.

This is the ACL brace to select for a return to extreme sports!!