At Better Braces, knee braces are a large part of what we do. While knee braces are a common sight in sports, that hasn’t always been the case. It might be interesting to know that the modern knee brace — used to prevent injury — has only been around since 1967.
The late 60s were important for the evolution of knee braces. In 1967, a professor of physiology, Dr. Robert F. McDavid, invented the first lateral knee brace designed to prevent injury or reinjury. His brace provided lateral protection of the knee. Then during the 1967 season and Super Bowl III, Hall of Fame New York Jets’ Quarterback Joe Namath played with a now-famous knee brace. Jack Castiglia of the Lenox Hill Brace Shop with along with noted sports physician Dr. James Nicholas designed the brace. This allowed Namath to keep playing despite being plagued by knee problems. Namath’s knee brace was so iconic that it is now on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
During the 1970s, more prophylactic knee braces began being tested and tried by more NFL players in an effort to reduce career ending knee injuries. It was an NFL player who gave us our start.
In 1978, Philadelphia Eagles football player Mark Nordquist teamed up with two of his friends to explore the possibilities of neoprene. There in his garage in Carlsbad, CA, DJO Incorporated was formed.
The first DJO products were simple sleeves made of sewn-together neoprene that were pulled over the knee as well as the ankle and elbow joints for support. Fast forward to today where knee braces come in a variety of shapes and sizes, designed for all manner of knee injuries and prevention. Whether you suffer from knee osteoarthritis or you’re looking to keep your ACL protected during a football game, there’s a knee brace that’s right for you.