A better fit for a better you

There is a television commercial that asks if you have back or knee pain because Medicare may pay for a brace for you. Simply call to see if you qualify.

Of course, you qualify. They bill your insurance, and you open up your package that came in the mail and say “now what?”

If this is your experience with braces, then you are pretty sure that they don’t work. Someone on the phone picked a brace, didn’t measure you, sent it to you without personalized instruction, and if something isn’t quite right, cannot help you.

A brace, or orthosis, is a device that supports bones, ligaments or substitutes for muscles. There are an endless number of orthoses for virtually any diagnosis. Let’s take knee braces as an example. There are knee braces for mild arthritis if your kneecap does not track well, osteoarthritis (bone on bone), injury, or ligament damage. Each of these orthoses is different and the many manufacturers make many models for different needs. How do you know what to get?

First, you talk to your doctor, they will help you decide if an orthosis can help you. This involves an examination to see what the specific problem is and the type of support you need. The doctor then writes a prescription, that you can fill wherever you want.


The person that fits you should be a qualified fitter trained in ‘orthotics’, the fitting of braces. Adjustments are made in the fitting of the brace to customize it to you. They will walk you through the insurance maze, Medicare is pretty straightforward, but other insurances need to be called to check coverage, deductibles, frequency and copays. That ‘orthotist’, or fitter, will measure you for the right size brace and then fit it to you.

The most important key to successfully wearing an orthosis happens between the ears. You should understand why the brace will help you, and when you should wear it. The fitter will fully instruct you in use of your brace. Understanding how to put it on correctly can make the difference in comfort and support of the device. If you have questions or concerns about your orthosis, you can call that fitter for guidance, or instruction. A benefit of Medicare is that adjustments made to the brace for 3 months are at no charge.

The reason that the braces on TV don’t work, is because they are not fit to you and there is no personal instruction or support.

Jay Roy, CPO

Northern Orthotics and Prosthetics


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