Arthrosis·Knee pain·Orthosis·Supports

“A real improvement for patients”

Research into osteoarthritis of the knee using the GenuTrain OA

From Bauerfeind Life Magazin on 03.07.2024

In short Stetter et al. from the Institute of Sports and Sports Science at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) demonstrated the following in a study published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine: the relieving GenuTrain OA soft brace helps patients suffering from moderate medial osteoarthritis of the knee significantly reduce pain, increase physical activity, and improve quality of life. The innovative study design combines subjective observations with experimental measurements, including a digital activity sensor which also records the intensity of an activity.

The latest study results published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine illustrate the clinical evidence of the GenuTrain OA in patients suffering from moderate osteoarthritis of the knee: wearing the relieving soft brace significantly reduces pain at rest, at night and when subjected to strain. It helps increase high-intensity physical activity as well as functional abilities.

The current study conducted by the Institute of Sports and Sports Science at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany, is innovative in many ways: “The majority of existing studies and work relating to orthotics in the research of osteoarthritis of the knee is based on self-reported data such as satisfaction scores with ratings concerning pain perception or the patient’s mobility,” explain Prof. Dr. med. Stefan Sell and Study Director Dr. Bernd Stetter. “Our objective was to methodically expand this field of research and to substantiate it with objectively measurable data on how the flexible GenuTrain OA brace works in patients suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee.”

Study Director and Orthotist Dr. Bernd Stetter.

To achieve this objective, both short-term and medium-term effects of the soft brace were examined – for a great number of factors to illustrate the whole spectrum of the complex condition. Data was collected about pain perception, activity levels, mobility, functional abilities and quality of life.

“For every patient suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee, pain is the central factor.”

Prof. Dr. Stefan Sell

For the self-reported assessment, international scores, such as the Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS) and the Lequesne Index were used. Pain perception in particular was analysed in detail, differentiating between pain at rest when sitting, pain when subjected to strain when walking gently and climbing the stairs, as well as pain at night. “For every patient suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee, pain is the central factor,” Prof. Dr. Stefan Sell points out. Both pain at rest and at night is decisive for treatment. Reducing it is essential for the well-being of patients, and it determines how long conservative treatment can be pursued. Pain when subjected to strain is also important, of course, as it restricts those affected in their range of motion. What do the findings show? “All types of pain were significantly reduced by wearing the GenuTrain OA. That’s a real improvement for patients,” reports Prof. Dr. Stefan Sell. The figures show that pain at night reduced by 43.2 per cent, during walking by 45.8 per cent, when climbing the stairs by 41.4 per cent and when sitting by 48.1 per cent. “The results also demonstrate that the GenuTrain OA has an immediate pain-reducing effect but also a positive impact in the longer term,” Prof. Dr. Stefan Sell and Dr. Bernd Stetter emphasize. “We assume that it simply takes a little time for the inflammation-related pain to reduce when the affected compartment is relieved.” This may also be a possible explanation for the reduction of pain at night when the test subjects were not wearing the brace. During the day, the results show that the test subjects used the GenuTrain OA very intensively – this is also based on its wearing comfort, which received very positive ratings.

Prof. Dr. med. Stefan Sell, Professor at the Institute of Sports and Sports Science at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT).

Digital monitoring

The central tool for examining activity levels and mobility was a new activity sensor. In addition to wearing duration, it also measures energy consumption and the intensity of the movements using acceleration sensors. “This allowed us to determine the specific effects exerted during gentle, moderate and intensive activity,” Dr. Bernd Stetter explains. “During gentle and moderate activity, we didn’t see any significant changes. High-intensity physical activity, however, increased with the use of the GenuTrain OA by an average of 20.2 minutes, accounting for an additional 50.6 per cent on average.” Patients were therefore able to perform much better: “Some patients were able to extend their tennis lesson by 15 minutes or add another workout to their week.” For Prof. Dr. Stefan Sell, this was one of the most surprising results: “Patients suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee inevitably reduce strain when they’re in pain. High-intensity activities represent fun. So when wearing the brace, they’re able to participate in activities again that they enjoy.”

The study conducted by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology demonstrated significant pain reduction and an increase in intensive activity when wearing the GenuTrain OA.

This aspect of higher functional ability and the associated quality of life was also substantiated by the results of the 6-minute walking test. “After six weeks, the group wearing the brace walked a distance during the test that was 5 percent longer. Test subjects reported they had fewer restrictions during everyday and sporting activities, rating their quality of life higher by an average of 13.4 per cent,” summarizes Dr. Bernd Stetter. “Together with the additional intensive activity and overall pain reduction, we get a consistent picture where all recorded data correlate.”

Another publication to come

The study also included gait analyses, which are currently being evaluated for another publication about biomechanical parameters. “We expect to demonstrate the positive effects exerted by the GenuTrain OA in this area as well. This high-quality sample allowed us to show the clinical evidence of the GenuTrain OA and to substantiate differentiated improvements provided by wearing the brace,” happily conclude sports scientist Dr. Bernd Stetter, himself a qualified orthotist, and physician Prof. Dr. Stefan Sell. “It will be interesting for future research what long-term effects the brace will have on the progression of the condition – and whether the number of associated surgeries could perhaps be reduced.”

Study design

For this prospective, randomized, controlled study, a total of 24 test subjects (10 female, 14 male) were examined over a period of 6 weeks. All test subjects suffered from moderate, unilateral osteoarthritis of the knee in the medial compartment. The mean age was 61.4 ±7.3 years and mean BMI 26.4 ±4.1 kg/m.

Images: Udo Schönewald

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