The Internal Brace at a Glance
Developed by Professor Gordon Mackay between 2011 and 2014
The Internal Brace is effectively a tiny bungee cord made of a super-strong polymer which is attached to two screws inserted into the bones at each end of the ligament/tendon. This brace stabilises the joint, and allows the patient to begin light exercise within a week.
While the patient is gradually increasing the intensity and duration of exercise, the ligament/tendon grows through the lattice-structure of the bungee-cord and then quickly and naturally reattaches itself to the bone. Because the affected area does not need to be incapacitated, it does not need to be put in a plaster cast, which results in a loss of condition for the surrounding muscles and extends recovery time. This results in an accelerated healing time. Instead of taking an average of 16 to 24 weeks to recover full function after a conventional ligament/tendon reconstruction, an Internal Brace will bring that time down to an average of 8 to 12 weeks.
As well as being applied to ligament and tendon damage, the Internal Brace can also be used to stabilise and repair a wide range of other serious injuries, such as thumb and elbow dislocation, or acromioclavicular dislocation.
As detailed in the case studies, one top-level rugby player, Rory Hutton (see video below), was back playing his first game of league rugby eight weeks to the day after the severe ankle injury he sustained saw him undergo ankle ligament reconstruction using Internal Bracing. Team GB bobsleigh pilot John Jackson was only able to compete in the Winter Olympics because he opted for an Internal Brace to repair a damaged Achille’s tendon. Two International Netball players have regained pre-injury levels of function 12 weeks after their ACL rupture has been treated with the internal brace.
with the healing of their ACL confirmed by MRI. These exceptional outcomes are partly explained by the procedure’s preservation of nerve and blood supply and the avoidance of donor site problems thanks to the IB fixation, although the duration of recovery is also determined by the individual and the unique nature of their injury. The Internal Brace is quickly becoming a standard procedure in skiing and impact sports, especially in the USA, where it is being used in the NFL and NBA. It has also increasingly being used to repair injuries to non-sportspeople, such as to a Swedish ballerina with a ruptured ACL.
Above: This video charts the progress of International netball player Claire Brownie who underwent a reconstruction of her ankle with Internal Bracing. Her injury was so severe it was thought she would not be fit to play for Scotland at the 2014 Commonwealth Games – watch her remarkable recovery story here.
The Internal Brace allows damaged ligaments/tendons to reattach themselves to the bone naturally instead of being artificially re-attached as per conventional surgery
Ligaments/tendons which reattach themselves naturally to the bone are stronger than if re-attached by surgery. Recovery times are also accelerated dramatically
If a ligament/tendon reattaches itself naturally then in the short-term there is none of the loss of function or pain associated with conventional surgery, while in the long-term there is no arthritis
As well as a quicker recovery time, greater functionality and significantly less long – and short-term health implications, because the Internal Brace technology is relatively simply the operation takes no longer and costs no more than conventional surgery. It also cuts down on costly physiotherapy.