Balance Braces: Your Questions Answered
We just passed Fall Prevention Awareness Day a few weeks ago. But while we’re glad to have a day on the calendar for some extra visibility, the truth is that fall prevention needs to be a daily concern if you or a loved one is at risk.
We’ve covered the statistics before on our website, but they’re worth bringing up again just to remind you of the scale of the problem. Almost a third of seniors over 65 and half of those over 80 will fall this year. Those falls will, directly or indirectly, lead to tens of thousands of fatalities and almost 3 million ER visits, many for serious injuries like concussions or broken hips.
That’s why we feel so strongly about making sure our at-risk patients have a comprehensive fall prevention strategy. And one of the major components of this strategy is the use of balance braces in daily life.
Still, we understand that you may have many questions and concerns. That’s why we’d like to take a moment to answer a few of those questions.
What type of balance brace do you use in your office?
We proudly use and prescribe the Moore Balance Brace (MBB) at our office. Although other balance braces exist, the MBB is the only one that’s been proven in clinical studies to increase postural stability and decrease the risk of falling. It’s a high quality and effective product.
Who is a good candidate for a balance brace?
A balance brace is a good choice for anyone who is at elevated risk of losing their balance. Some of the most common clinical indications include the following—you don’t have to have all of these, just some:
- You are age 65 or older.
- You’ve fallen at least once in the past.
- You frequently feel like you’re having difficulty maintaining balance while standing, walking, or navigating stairs.
- You have diabetes, peripheral neuropathy, and/or a neurological condition affecting the feet and ankles (such as drop foot).
- You suffer from chronic foot pain, ankle instability, or deformities such as bunions, flat arches, or hammertoes.
- You have any other conditions that may compromise balance, such as a vestibular disorder, poor eyesight, poor hearing, etc.
What does the brace look like? How big is it?
The Moore Balance Brace is a full ankle-foot orthosis, meaning it extends above and behind the ankle, as well as under the foot.
Won’t it be heavy, bulky, and uncomfortable to wear?
The MBB is designed to be as thin and lightweight as possible, while still offering more than enough rigidity to keep you steady on your feet. The shell is made from durable-yet-lightweight polypropylene, with a comfortable and durable polyester cover and great cushioning under the feet.
It may take a little getting used to at first, but most people adjust quickly and find that the brace does not feel uncomfortable, restrict their movements, or “stick out” through clothing.
We recommend you wear clean, breathable socks that help prevent perspiration buildup. Change socks as needed to keep your feet dry and comfortable.
Is it difficult to put on, take off, and adjust?
That will depend on your current physical capabilities, but the balance brace does include several ease-of-use features for fitting and adjusting. It is fairly easy to slide your feet in and out, and there are no laces, buttons, or snaps—only large, easy-to-reach and easy-to-pull Velcro straps across the front of the shins.
Can I still wear my normal shoes?
Most likely yes. The low profile and open design of the footbed is meant to make fitting the balance brace into normal shoes a breeze.
We can’t guarantee that it will fit every pair of shoes you currently have, although it should fit most (and won’t require “special” shoes). Shoes with removable insoles tend to work best since they will provide extra depth. Walking shoes with laces are also recommended.
What about my custom orthotics?
Here’s the beautiful thing. The Moore Balance Brace is a custom-made device that incorporates its own built-in custom foot and arch support, fashioned according to the precise dimensions and contours of your feet. This not only helps keep you more stable, but can also help reduce heel, arch, and foot pain.
How do I care for my balance brace?
The balance brace may be machine washed on a cold-gentle cycle. Hand washing with mild soap and water is also a good choice. Always air dry—do not put your balance brace in the dryer or use a hair dryer or space heater to speed up the process. This could damage your balance brace.
If you notice any portions of the brace that are broken, cracked, or significantly worn, give us a call so we can take a look. A damaged brace is not going to provide the stability you need.
Does it really work?
Yes. Wearing balance braces is not a guarantee that you won’t fall, but it does measurably improve your odds.
As mentioned above, the Moore Balance Brace has been clinically proven to reduce postural sway and improve postural stability. In short, it makes it easier to stay stable on your feet by significantly reducing the many factors of instability.
That said, bracing is only one part of a comprehensive fall prevention program. You cannot expect them to do 100 percent of the work. To reduce your fall risk as much as possible, you should also take other necessary actions, such as regular stretching and exercising, choosing appropriate shoes, and addressing any tripping or falling hazards within your home and work spaces.
If you exhibit any of the noted risk factors—or you’ve already fallen in the past—please don’t wait any longer to get a comprehensive fall risk assessment and learn if a balance brace can help keep you on your feet. Schedule an appointment with the Community Foot Clinic of McPherson by giving us a call at (620) 241-3313, or request an appointment online today.