The Össur Knee Brace vs Levitation

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Finding the perfect knee brace for your needs is no easy feat. To help you on this journey, we will compare a popular Össur knee brace for osteoarthritis with a brace made by Spring Loaded.

Össur currently has two generations of their knee brace for moderate to severe unicompartmental knee osteoarthritis. These braces are the Unloader One Custom and the Unloader One X Custom. The Unloader One X Custom builds on the comfort and ease-of-use of the Unloader One Custom, although both have the same key features. Since they are so similar, we will refer to both generations as the Össur knee brace in this article. 

Levitation is the world’s first bionic brace. Made by Spring Loaded, the brace combines traditional knee bracing with exoskeleton technology. By powering your movements and reducing pressure across the entire knee, this brace boasts cutting-edge technology. A variety of conditions, including osteoarthritis, meniscus damage, and ligament injuries, have been satisfactorily treated with this brace.

Introduction

The Össur knee brace and Levitation have several things in common. Both are covered by most insurance plans and come with a warranty. They are also lightweight and sleek enough to be worn under your pants. The braces can also effectively treat osteoarthritis in only one side of the knee (unicompartmental tibiofemoral osteoarthritis). So if you are like 3–20% of knee OA patients who have this condition,1-2 both braces are good options for you.

graph of prevalence of multicomparmental and unicompartmental osteoarthritis

But because this is a brace comparison, talking about their similarities won’t help you pick one over the other. Read on for a full breakdown of the most important differences. 

Knee Extension Assist: Össur Knee Brace vs. Levitation

A knee extension assist sets Levitation apart from traditional offloaders like Össur. Due to the groundbreaking design of its knee extension assist hinge, Levitation is called a bionic knee brace.

Levitation’s hinge works by storing energy within liquid springs while you do a knee bend. During leg extension, the springs release the energy, which feels like receiving a boost of power to your knees. The highly powerful assist reduces joint impact by an amount equivalent to losing 45 lb.3 

Patients with knee osteoarthritis highly benefit from a knee extension assist. By reducing bone-on-bone contact, the assist eliminates pain and improves mobility during leg movements. The assist is so effective that users with knee osteoarthritis have reported a 95% reduction in knee pain7 and an 85% increase in mobility8

Knee Unloading Capabilities: Össur Knee Brace vs. Levitation

Össur and other traditional offloader braces work by shifting pressure from the unhealthy knee compartment to the healthy compartment. Based on its name – the Össur Unloader One – it sounds like the brace unloads forces. However, it’s more accurate to say that the brace offloads forces within the knee. This is because the brace redistributes forces rather than removing them. 

Offloading is an effective way to manage joint forces if you have osteoarthritis in only one of your knee compartments. Among Össur users, 25% reported using fewer pain killers, 31% reported using fewer OTC anti-inflammatories, and 35% reported using fewer prescription anti-inflammatories after trying the brace.8

But if you are like most patients with knee OA, degradation in only one side of your knee is not your arthritis pattern. Instead, you likely have osteoarthritis in more than one knee compartment or in your knee cap.4,5

Unfortunately, traditional offloader braces like Össur may not provide the best relief for the more common OA patterns.5 Fortunately, a knee brace like Levitation exists, which can unload pressure across all three knee compartments.3 This degree of unloading leads effectively reduces pain symptoms. For example, 47% of Levitation users who regularly used pain medications before trying the brace reported using fewer pain medications or entirely eliminating them.9

Because Levitation reduces pressure in all three knee compartments, it is sometimes called a tri-compartment unloader. In comparison, traditional braces are called uni-compartment offloaders because they only reduce pressure in one knee compartment.

the össur knee brace is a unicompartment offloader while levitation is a tricompartment unloader

Knee Cap Unloading Capabilities: Össur vs. Levitation

Pain inside the knee cap (patellofemoral compartment) is not possible to treat effectively with a traditional offloader brace like the Össur knee brace.5 These types of knee braces can only relieve pain affecting one tibiofemoral compartment, which leaves out your knee cap. 

In comparison, Levitation unloads pressure across the entire knee.3 The brace can reduce pressure in three knee compartments, including the knee cap. So if you have pain in your knee cap, you should consider Levitation as your bracing solution.

Custom Features: Össur Knee Brace vs. Levitation

Össur braces are custom built using measurements obtained during your in-clinic appointment. Measurements are usually obtained using scans, CMS, or casting. However, Össur knee braces can also be custom-fitted using SmartMeasure, an intuitive measuring system that works on an iPhone or iPad.

Össur users can also adjust its SmartDosing dial, a mechanism that controls strap tension. By fine-tuning the tightness of the strap, you can customize the degree to which the brace redistributes knee forces between your tibiofemoral compartments. 

You can also customize the colour and graphics of your Össur knee brace. The first generation brace has 12 different colours to choose from. Or, for an additional fee, you can select one of 9 graphics to decorate your brace. You can also customize the look of the second generation brace, although the options are more limited with 6 different colours. 

The Levitation knee brace can be customized to meet your changing mobility needs. The brace can be adjusted to two power modes: High Power and Low Power. The unloading options allow you to choose how much of an assist you get from the brace, as well as the range of motion over which it is active.

Levitation’s High Power mode can support you during energy-intensive movements, such as deep knee bends. In this mode, you will get 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 can still enjoy the benefits of an assist at a lessened intensity. 

Fitting & Consultation Process: Össur vs. Levitation

With many knee braces on the market, fittings and consultations can only occur in-clinic. If you are interested in an Össur knee brace, you will need to book an appointment with an orthotist. To help you, the Össur company website provides a search tool for the closest orthotist. However, before you book an appointment, your doctor will need to prescribe you a knee brace for your osteoarthritis. 

In comparison, Levitation offers remote fittings and consultations. With Levitation, you can avoid the wait times, transportation costs, and inventory problems associated with traditional fittings and consultations. Instead, you’ll be able to hit the ground running with a one-on-one consultation with a bracing specialist. 

And during a time like the COVID-19 pandemic, you won’t have to sacrifice your time to stay safe when you book a remote fitting and consultation. 

Special Guarantees: Össur vs. Levitation

Like Levitation, Össur offers a warranty on its braces and their soft goods. However, it does not offer any special guarantees that can sweeten the deal even further. 

A major benefit of shopping at Spring Loaded is its Life Change Guarantee. Because Levitation has improved thousands of patients’ lives, its company is confident one can change your life, too. The Life Change Guarantee states: If Levitation does not fundamentally change your life to your full satisfaction in the first 30 days of receiving it, we will send you a prepaid return shipping label and issue a full refund. There are no hidden fees or surprises. Terms and conditions apply.

Features of the Össur knee brace compared to Levitation

The winner? Most likely Levitation

Finally, you have it: Össur versus Levitation. If you only have osteoarthritis in one side of your knee, then both the Össur brace and Levitation can sufficiently treat your symptoms. Due to its ability to fine-tune strap tension and its variety of colors and graphics, you may prefer the Össur brace over Levitation. 

But if you are like most knee OA patients, you have degradation in more than one knee compartment or in your knee cap. In that case, there is a clear winner: Levitation. Due to its knee extension assist and full unloading capabilities, the bionic brace is by far the best option for your knee health. 

Another reason to get excited about Levitation is the high level of customer support you’ll receive throughout your decision process. Shopping for a medical device is difficult, especially during a pandemic. But with a bracing specialist at your side during a remote fitting and consultation, you can feel confident about getting your new brace. And finally, if you end up dissatisfied with Levitation, you can get a full refund thanks to 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. Another option is to have a specialist reach out to you. For that, click the button below!

Levitation changes lives

What makes Levitation bionic?

More Reading

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References

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. Based on a retrospective systematic survey of Spring Loaded knee brace users with knee osteoarthritis.
  7. Based on a retrospective systematic survey of Spring Loaded brace users with knee osteoarthritis.
  8. Briggs, K.K., Matheny, L.M., and Steadman, J.R. (2012). Improvement in quality of life with use of an unloader knee brace in active patients with OA: A prospective cohort study. J Knee Surg 25, 417-422.
  9. Budarick, A.R., Bishop, E. and Cowper-Smith, C., (2020). Evaluation of a new orthotic for multi-compartment knee osteoarthritis: a retrospective pilot survey. In Preparation.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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

Is an Össur knee brace or Levitation better for osteoarthritis?

Depending on your pattern of knee osteoarthritis, an Össur knee brace or Levitation may be right for you. The Össur knee brace (like the Unloader One) only treats unicompartmental tibiofemoral OA, while Levitation can treat all patterns of knee OA. Before buying a medical brace, be sure to speak to your healthcare provider or bracing specialist about your individual needs.

What is the difference between an Össur knee brace for OA and Levitation?

An Össur knee brace for osteoarthritis (like the Unloader One) and Levitation use different mechanisms to minimize knee joint forces. An Össur knee brace redistributes forces from the unhealthy side of the knee to the healthy side. Levitation unloads forces across the entire knee and also powers leg movements.

Is an Össur knee brace good for treating knee osteoarthritis?

An Össur knee brace (such as the Unloader One) can only effectively treat specific patterns of knee osteoarthritis. Because the brace works by redistributing forces from one side of the knee to the other side, the Össur knee brace is best suited to treating unicompartmental tibiofemoral OA. If you have this condition or a different knee OA pattern, a knee brace like Levitation may be a better choice.