What is the difference between custom-fitted vs custom-made vs off-the-shelve orthopedic braces?

The main difference people initially see is the cost. Fifty dollars for off-the-shelve knee brace, a hundred dollars or more for custom-fitted braces to a thousand dollars plus for a custom-fitted knee brace. So why the huge difference? The first question that I ask my patient’s is always the purpose and need of their knee, back brace or any product/service for that matter. All three product types has its unique purpose.

Let’s start with the simple off-the-shelve orthopedic brace. These braces often are made of basic quality which offer limited material choices and function. Ex. velcro straps that may not last as long as their premium counterparts. The designs are usually a bit dated and provide a simple function to immobilize an area.  So someone that wants the function and flexibility needed for sports or physical work or gardening may not be ideal. These activities require a lot of motion and ranges that must be met with a product that is able to adapt to this demand. This is not to say these classes of braces do not provide an important role in joint support. They are often convenient as they can be bought in most department stores at all sorts of hours (e.g. Sunday night). Also they are the most cost effective joint support especially when its used for an acute situation and not long term. So in this case quality may not matter as much.

This brings us to custom-fitted orthopedic braces. These braces are often more expensive as they require an authorized fitter like ones here at the MYOMED clinic as they offer more accurate sizes anatomically designed by the medical brace manufacturers. These companies are often in the forefront to research in this field and add their knowledge into their products. Therefore they have a wide range of sizes and product types to fit more specific demands such as for medical, sports, work, travel and other daily demands. For example, the brace maybe designed with different levels of compression and pressures to relieviate tension to a certain tendon or muscle group. Straps to prevent stress on a bone. They are designed to perform specific medical necessary functions and so their quality must reflect that.  It is valuable to know most medical type braces allow the user to wear for a prolonged period of time. They often need a medical prescription and a specialized fitter to ensure the product is correct for the individual. It is not recommended to buy off the shelve for this purpose. And is why most insurance companies offer to reimburse patients for these products. 

Lastly, custom-made braces are even more special as they are made to measure. No compromise. No body is the same and some situations require special attention. It could be a medical condition which makes sizing difficult for even custom-fitted braces. It could be the level of sports compounded with a unique stature of the patient which makes the situation unique. Whatever the reason, where a custom-fitted brace cannot perform the necessary medical or lifestyle need due to a fitting or special issue, we may employ custom-made braces to do that job.

In conclusion, all three types of braces are useful in their own respective way and so knowing the purpose and need of the brace would ultimately guide our custom brace specialists know which product is best for you. Whether it is a back brace or knee brace, we have you covered. Contact one of our brace specialists for a fitting appointment today.

The MYOMED clinic is an authorized distributor for Bauerfiend medical braces which are made in Germany. https://bauerfeind.ca/pages/where-to-buy?locale=en