The Donjoy Knee Brace vs Levitation
Not all knee braces are created alike. But you probably already know this from your research into your bracing options. To make your life easier, we will compare a popular Donjoy knee brace for osteoarthritis with the Spring Loaded knee brace, Levitation.
Donjoy makes several braces for osteoarthritis. The Clima-Flex OA Knee Brace, the OA Reaction Web, and the OA Nano are some examples. However, the Custom Adjustable OA Defiance is Donjoy’s premier knee brace for osteoarthritis. In this article, we will compare this brace to Levitation. To keep things simple, we will refer to the Donjoy OA Defiance as either the Donjoy knee brace or just Donjoy.
Levitation is the flagship product of Spring Loaded. It is the world’s first bionic brace, providing patients a powered assist during leg extension and pressure relief across the entire knee. Due to its cutting-edge technology, Levitation has helped patients with osteoarthritis, meniscus damage, and ligament injuries, among other conditions.
Firstly, Levitation and Donjoy share several features. Both are insurance approved, come with a warranty, and can be worn beneath your pants. They can also relieve pressure on one side of the knee. If you suffer from unicompartmental tibiofemoral arthritis, like approximately 4–20% of patients with knee osteoarthritis,1-2 then both braces can provide the pain relief you are looking for.
But this article is a battle of the knee braces, so talking about their shared features won’t persuade you one way or the other. Read on for our full breakdown of the key differences.
Joint Stability: Donjoy Knee Brace vs. Levitation
Donjoy knee braces are known for their patented 4-Points-of-Leverage System. The four points refer to four parts of the brace design that work together to promote stability. For example, the design pushes your femur forward and applies a constant force that aligns your tibia with your knee. As a result, the brace prevents shifting and misalignment of your knee.
Levitation also addresses alignment problems, but with a different method. For more stability, you can install a pneumatic offloader add-on to your brace. The add-on is a fully-adjustable pad filled with compressed air. By placing pressure on the side of the knee, the add-on promotes correct alignment. The device also transfers forces away from the compartment most affected by osteoarthritis.
Knee Extension Assist: Donjoy Knee Brace vs. Levitation
A knee extension assist is one of the most obvious differences between Donjoy and Levitation. The assist is what makes Levitation a bionic knee brace instead of just an active knee brace like Donjoy.
Levitation’s bionic knee extension assist hinge works by transferring energy from the brace to your legs. First, energy gets stored inside the hinge’s liquid springs when you bend your knee. Then, during knee extension, the springs release the energy, providing your knee with a boost of power. The assist is highly powerful, reducing joint force by an amount equivalent to losing 45 lb.3
Moreover, the assist is highly useful for reducing bone-on-bone contact, which occurs with osteoarthritis. By decreasing the amount of bone-on-bone contact, the assist reduces pain and improves mobility during leg movements. With Levitation, patients with knee osteoarthritis have reported a 95% reduction in knee pain7 and an 85% increase in mobility8.
Customizable Features: Donjoy Knee Brace vs. Levitation
All Donjoy OA Defiance braces are custom built using either a measurement device or a cast mold. Also, Donjoy users can customize the angle of its Telescoping Condyle Pad. The condyle is a mechanism that redistributes knee joint forces and it can be adjusted from 1° to 7°. However, 3° is the recommended angle, so this feature may not be highly necessary for you. Another custom feature of Donjoy is its look. There are over 40 custom frame colors and graphics to choose from.
Levitation users can customize how much of an assist they get from the bionic knee extension assist hinge. They can also adjust the range of motion over which the assist is active. If you are performing energy-intensive actions, such as deep knee bends, you can set your brace to High Power mode. This mode will give you an extra boost of power during your leg extensions. But if your activity is less demanding or your leg strength has increased, you can set your brace to Low Power mode. In this setting, you will still enjoy the benefits of an assist at a lessened intensity.
Knee Unloading Capabilities: Donjoy vs. Levitation
Donjoy and other traditional offloader braces redistribute pressure between the two tibiofemoral knee compartments. While the name Donjoy OA Unloader suggests that the brace works by unloading forces, its action would be better described as offloading. This is because its condyle shifts (or offloads) knee joint forces from the unhealthy compartment to the healthy compartment.
But if you are like most osteoarthritis patients, you have osteoarthritis in more than one knee compartment or your knee cap.4,5 With these OA patterns, traditional offloader braces may not provide the relief you need. Unlike Donjoy, Levitation unloads pressure across the entire knee, which includes all three compartments.3 As a result, patients with osteoarthritis in one or more knee compartments can truly experience the pain relief they seek.
Knee Cap Unloading: Donjoy Knee Brace vs. Levitation
Pain caused by osteoarthritis in the knee cap (patellofemoral osteoarthritis) is difficult and usually impossible to treat with traditional offloader braces.5 Because braces like DonJoy only target a single tibiofemoral compartment, their users experience little to no pain relief in their knee caps.5
Unlike traditional offloaders, Levitation unloads the entire knee and relieves symptoms that occur in the knee cap.3 Its broad unloading capabilities are why the brace is sometimes referred to as a “tri-compartment unloader.” In other words, if your pain originates in the knee cap, Levitation is your only bracing option proven to provide the pain relief you are looking for.3
Remote Fitting + Consultation Process: Donjoy vs. Levitation
You can order both Donjoy and Levitation online, but the level of customer service you’ll receive during a remote fitting and consultation will vary. For example, the Donjoy website provides an order form with fields for your leg measurements, affected knee compartment, and billing information, which you fill out yourself. Additionally, if you want your brace custom-fitted, you can access instructions for preparing a cast of your knee.
If you are interested in Levitation, the fitting and consultation take place in a free one-on-one phone or video call with a bracing specialist. During your call, the specialist will first help you determine whether Levitation is the right bracing solution for you. Once you’re confident going forward with your order, the specialist will then guide you through the process of obtaining the measurements for your brace. They will also assist in the billing and insurance claim processes.
Special Guarantees: Donjoy vs. Levitation
Donjoy guarantees a 24-hour turnaround time for the majority of their orders, although if you decide to custom your Donjoy knee brace using a cast, the brace may be shipped within 3-10 days of order receipt.
Spring Loaded practically guarantees their brace will change your life. Based on the thousands of lives Levitation has already improved, the company offers a Life Change Guarantee: If Levitation does not fundamentally change your life to your satisfaction within the first 30 days of receiving it, then they will send you a prepaid return shipping label and issue a full refund. No hidden fees or surprises. Terms and conditions apply.
The Winner? Most Likely Levitation
And there you have it: Donjoy versus Levitation. If you only need a brace that provides stability to your knee and redistributes force from one compartment to another, then the Donjoy knee brace is a great option. Further benefits of Donjoy are its customizable fit, condyle, and look.
But if you have knee osteoarthritis in more than one knee compartment or in your knee cap, the Levitation knee brace wins by a long shot. In this case, there is no alternative. Traditional offloader braces cannot power your leg muscles or reduce pressure across the entire knee as Levitation can.
Another standout perk of Levitation is the high level of customer support you’ll experience during your fitting and consultation. With a specialist at your side, you can feel confident in your decision-making process. And if in the end, you decide Levitation is not your bracing solution, you can still get a full refund as promised by the Life Change Guarantee.
If you believe Levitation can help you do more of what you love, contact a bracing specialist at 1-877-209-8780 (toll-free) for a free consultation. You can also request that a specialist gets in touch with you by clicking the button below.
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- Heekin, R. D. & Fokin, A. A. (2014). Incidence of bicompartmental osteoarthritis in patients undergoing total and unicompartmental knee arthroplasty: is the time ripe for a less radical treatment?. The journal of knee surgery, 27(01), 77–82. doi: 10.1055/s-0033-1349401
- Shahid, M. K., Al-Obaedi, O., & Shah, M. (2018). Prevalence of compartmental osteoarthritis of the knee in an adult patient population: A retrospective observational study. EC Orthopaedics, 9(10), 774–780.
- Budarick, A. R., MacKeil, B. E., Fitzgerald, S. & Cowper-Smith, C. D. (2019). Design and Mechanical Evaluation of a Novel Multi-Compartment Unloader Knee Brace. J. Biomech. Eng. doi:10.1115/1.4044818
- Duncan, R. C., Hay, E. M., Saklatvala, J., & Croft, P. R. (2006). Prevalence of radiographic osteoarthritis – it all depends on your point of view. Rheumatology, 45(6), 757–760. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/kei270
- Hinman, R. S. & Crossley, K. M. (2007). Patellofemoral joint osteoarthritis: an important subgroup of knee osteoarthritis. Rheumatology, 46(7), 1057–1062. doi:10.1093/rheumatology/kem114
- Robert Butler, PT, DPT, Ph.D., Boyi Dai, Ph.D., William Garrett, MD, Ph.D., and Robin M. Queen, Ph.D. (2014). Changes in Landing Mechanics in Patients Following Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction When Wearing an Extension Constraint Knee Brace. Sports Health, 6(3), 203–209.
- Based on a retrospective systematic survey of Spring Loaded knee brace users with knee osteoarthritis.
- Based on a retrospective systematic survey of Spring Loaded brace users with knee osteoarthritis.
- McAlindon, T., Zhang, Y., Hannan, M., Naimark, A., Weissman, B., Castelli, W., & Felson, D. (1996). Are risk factors for patellofemoral and tibiofemoral knee osteoarthritis different?. J Rheumatol, 23(2), 332-337.
- Stefanik, J. J., Guermazi, A., Roemer, F.W., et al. (2016). Changes in patellofemoral and tibiofemoral joint cartilage damage and bone marrow lesions over 7 years: the Multicenter Osteoarthritis Study. Osteoarthritis Cartilage, 24(7), 1160-1166. doi:10.1016/j.joca.2016.01.981.
- Lankhorst, N.E., Damen, J., Oei, E.H, et al. (2017). Incidence, prevalence, natural course and prognosis of patellofemoral osteoarthritis: the Cohort Hip and Cohort Knee study. Osteoarthritis Cartilage, 25(5), 647-653. doi:10.1016/j.joca.2016.12.006.
Frequently Asked Questions
Levitation is a brace that can treat all patterns of knee osteoarthritis, while Donjoy can only treat unicompartmental tibiofemoral osteoarthritis. Because Levitation unloads the entire knee, it can treat all patterns of knee OA. But be sure to speak to your healthcare provider or bracing specialist to determine which brace will suit your individual needs.
A Donjoy knee brace for osteoarthritis redistributes forces from the unhealthy side of the knee to the healthy side. Levitation uses a bionic hinge that reduces pressure across the entire knee and also powers leg movements.
Levitation is made with a bionic knee extension assist hinge that powers your leg muscles. During a knee bend, the hinge stores energy within liquid springs. When you extend your leg, the stored energy is released, providing a boost of energy to your movements.