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What is a functional knee brace?

This type of brace originated in the 1970s as a means of providing external support for patients and athletes who experience a ligament injury and/or knee surgery to repair damaged ligaments. While most patients are prescribed a brace after an injury to their ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), functional braces can also provide external support for PCL, MCL and LCL instabilities. Ligament braces are routinely fabricated with carbon graphite or aircraft aluminum shells that provide a rigid structure for stabilizing the knee and reducing the potential for further damage or re-injury of ligaments in the knee. The hinges on the brace are the most critical feature, and the patented hinges on Townsend’s braces are widely considered to be the best in the industry.


Benefits and Limitations?

To optimize the benefits a patient receives from wearing a brace, there are several key objectives that need to be achieved. The brace model needs to be appropriate for the patient’s size, leg shape and routine physical activities. A patient who is 55 years old, average height and weight, is very different than a 20 year old, 330 lbs. football lineman in terms of the type of brace and options that should be ordered. Townsend offers the widest selection of brace configurations so that medical professionals can consider the specific needs of each patient. The brace needs to fit intimately on the leg, meaning the shells of the brace should fit snugly on the limb and the hinges should be properly aligned with the sides of the knee. Also, the patient needs to be properly instructed on how to put on the brace. Another objective, that is critical to the function of the brace and the patient’s willingness to wear it is brace suspension. The brace has to stay properly positioned on the leg through physical activities, and not slip down the leg. Townsend braces have patented design features that optimize brace suspension. In fact, Townsend’s ligament knee braces are guaranteed to not migrate down the leg.

Custom or Pre-Sized?

Braces are routinely categorized as custom made for specifically for one patient, or custom fitted -- also referred to as off-the-shelf braces -- that come in standard sizes. The medical profession ordering a knee brace routinely makes the determination of whether a custom brace is needed (if the patient’s leg size, leg shape or physical activities will make it difficult or impossible to achieve a satisfactory outcome from a pre-sized brace). In some cases, insurance companies will only authorize a pre-sized brace. Townsend is the only manufacturer that offers a fabrication option called “customized” that is a hybrid between custom and standard size braces made for legs that are not proportional (i.e. large thigh, smaller calf).

Over the past three decades, Townsend Design has played a significant role in the advancement of bracing technology for patients who experience ligament injuries. A recognized leader in the field of custom, pre-sized and “customized” knee braces, Townsend has continuously set the standard for developing products that achieve the highest levels of protection and patient satisfaction.


With knee brace designs that have been rated #1 in numerous independent studies, Townsend is widely respected for its patented hinge and suspension technology. Medical professionals generally consider Townsend to be the best source for genuine custom fabricated products and braces that benefit the most challenging patients and extreme athletes.

Townsend only sells its ligament braces to qualified medical providers, and works closely with these medical professionals in the selection of the most appropriate brace model and options for each patient.

Patients who are prescribed and fit with a Townsend ligament knee brace will routinely achieve these benefits:

Increased support and protection

Total shell-to-skin contact of the brace to the limb

Enhanced compliance through the reduction
of brace migration

Optimized physical mobility