Many questions have been posed to me regarding information that I tweeted out last night in regard to the knee protection worn by Patrick Mahomes in the Kansas City Chiefs’ game against the Los Angeles Chargers on Monday night.
A quick note from the game last night we get a great look at type of bracing being worn by PM. Most likely a neoprene type sleeve with circular padding to aid in the alignment of the patella during activity. Typically the first and best choice for this injury@ArrowheadPride pic.twitter.com/uPahnYIfp1— Aaron Borgmann (@RehabAllStar) November 20, 2019
First and foremost, let me say that I am a supporter of bracing for acute and sub-acute return to play. I have utilized it often in my professional sports career and now in my private practice for clients and athletes.
That being said, let’s move forward with the basic premise that bracing does not prevent injury. There, I said it. I know that this may come as a surprise to some of you, but the human body is capable of producing forces that we have not discovered how to stop yet.
The brace can limit injury — sure. Protect from further harm? Possibly yes. Aid in confidence for an upcoming competition? Absolutely.
Bracing serves its purpose, and I strongly encourage it for certain situations, but let’s not make it out to be something that it is not. With all that in mind, let’s look at some examples of what the star quarterback could be utilizing:
Above, we see just a few of the many examples of products on the market from some well-known companies. This is not meant to be comprehensive at all. To be clear, I have no idea what protective device he is using.
A simple Internet search will lend you all sorts of other interesting devices in shapes, colors, and sizes, but the ones you see above are more of the standardized ones used.
The main components and purpose are all the same: support directly around the kneecap, compression of the joint in general, stabilization both above and below the joint and some include lateral stabilization with hinges.
Due to mobility needed to play sport and of the patellar complex in general, the amount of restriction that these devices allow has to be minimal. Remember, the athlete still needs to be able to perform his skill. The balance of protection and mobility is crucial here.
Also, keep in mind that the athlete has to be comfortable performing his task and like playing in the device as well. There is no benefit in throwing something on someone who hates it.
The bottom line
The medical staff for the Chiefs has clearly done a great job rehabbing Mahomes and is to be credited for it. The protective bracing is standard care here, and in time, it will be discontinued. It serves its purpose in the short term.
Aaron Borgmann is the founder of Borgmann Rehab Solutions. He spent 12 years in the NFL as an assistant athletic trainer and physical therapist before joining Arrowhead Pride.