knee braces burnaby

Knee Braces: Custom Made vs. Off the Shelf

A commonly debated issue is the need for custom made knee braces versus pre-made, or off-the-shelf, versions.  There are two sides to this debate and this post will provide the advantages of each style of knee braces.

Off the Shelf Knee Braces

OTS knee braces are pre-made, typically in sizes small, medium, large, and x-large.  Our experience at Burnaby Orthopaedic is that the most common sizes of knee braces are small, medium and large.  We typically use OTS knee barces as options for less severe injuries, shorter term use, or in cases we are trying to keep costs as economical as possible.  Knee braces are usually fit by taking circumference measurements at the thigh (15cm above mid-patella), mid-patella, and calf (15cm below mid-patella).  Caliper measurements are sometimes taken at mid-patella to capture the width of the knee joint.

Some of the knee braces are available in varying lengths which helps to accommodate clients at heights of 162cm and less (5'4").


  1. More economical
  2. Immediate or quick fitting
  3. Less severe injuries
  4. Temporary use

Custom Made Knee Braces

There are different methods of making custom knee braces including casts, measurement systems, and more recently iPhone/iPad apps.  Each have their pros and cons and when used properly, produce great fitting knee braces.  For harder to fit legs, or legs with unique features, a cast is always the most reliable method to capture the true anatomical contours.knee braces alignment


  1. True custom fit
    1. Sizing (thigh and calf measurements may be different sizes)
    2. Length of brace (different heights warrant different lengths)
    3. Alignment - varus or valgus alignment ('bow legged' or 'knock kneed')
  2. More severe injuries
  3. Longer term use - like postponing or avoiding a ligament reconstruction or joint replacement
  4. Better warranties (typically 5 years or more)


At the end of the day, there isn't one solution that works for everyone.  We pride ourselves on our customer service and each client will get a thorough assessment.  This will help us to achieve the best possible outcome.  To make an informed decision we take into account many different variables including: injury, occupation, activity level, client size, hand dexterity, skin conditions, and previous knee brace history.

Let us help guide you through the purchase of your knee braces.  Our knee braces can be viewed here.



Welcome to our Blog!!!

These blog posts will discuss a variety of topics pertinent to the field of orthotics, breast prosthetics, lymphedema and compression. The content within will be our opinions on issues in the field and concerns we come upon on a daily basis. We carry a wide range of products and the business of orthotics, breast prosthetics and compression is always evolving.  With this in mind we will discuss numerous topics which we feel are timely and pertinent to our readers.

Foot Orthotics

When our business was first established in 1992 the field of foot orthotics was largely one where every prescribed item was made from a plaster (negative) cast of the foot.  This cast was then filled with plaster and modified which created a positive mold. Material was then heated and formed to create the custom device for the client. This technique is still widely used, but with the innovation of technology many extended benefits plans allow for impression foam boxes and 3D scanners to be used to create the negative cast.

As per Great West Life’s policy, “A 3D image is an acceptable cast when the laser or scanning system directly scans the patient's foot in a non-weight bearing position.”

Custom Knee Braces

Much has also changed with the manufacture of custom knee bracing. The gold standard used to be plaster or fiberglass casting but measurement technology has advanced now it is most common for custom knee braces to be made from an App or a specific measuring device.  These measurements are then used to create a positive mold via various CAD/CAM systems or similar.


If there is a specific topic you are interested in and would like us to research and add to our Blog we invite you to contact us via social media or info@burnabyorthopaedic.com and we will do our best to provide more information.

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