Hat Trick Sports

Bryan S. Bentz

What are the Key Differences Between Sleeve and Wraparound Knee Braces?

If you look around any athletic training room or physical therapy office, you’re likely to find a knee brace or two lying around. They are incredibly useful in cases of knee sprains, instability, or injury. Knee injury prevention, as well as recovery, can be assisted with the use of a brace, but how are you to know which style brace is best?
Two different styles of knee braces you’re likely to find are sleeves and wraparound. They are not created equal, and they serve different roles, depending on the injury, patient age, activity level or sport, and condition of the knee-joint. Find out what the key differences are between these two styles, and you’ll be better equipped to reach for the right brace for yourself.

Sleeve Knee Braces

McDavid 429 Hinged Knee Brace is a Sleeve Style Brace

The McDavid 429 Hinged Knee Brace is a Sleeve Style Brace

Sleeve style braces are probably the most common type of knee brace. Sleeves pull onto the leg over the foot and fit snugly around the knee-joint when pulled up into place. Many sleeves have built-in pull-tabs to help pull the brace up into place. Knee sleeves may provide patellar support, ligament stability, warmth, compression, or assist the functioning of the joint. Many of these sleeves are neoprene fabric that creates a tight compression around the joint. These types of sleeves create warmth and the compression helps to reduce swelling. Newer designs now use moisture-wicking materials and hypoallergenic materials for those allergic to neoprene or wanting a ‘cooler’ option. Some knee sleeves have integrated hinges into the sleeve to add stability during sports or daily life activities. Hinged knee sleeves help keep everything stable and protect the cartilage and ligaments within the knee. Other knee sleeve options may have buttresses or straps built into the sleeve that helps pull the knee cap (patella) into proper alignment or reduce the risk of subluxation and dislocation.

Sleeve style braces are often used for knee injury prevention or in the later stages of rehabilitation. In many different activities such as basketball, football, running, or soccer, the knee-joint can be put under tremendous stress from contact or repetitive movements. A compression sleeve can aid in supporting the joint and assist it to move in a more natural and less painful fashion. Your doctor or therapist may recommend wearing it during physical activity or throughout the day as it doesn’t reduce normal motion but rather supports it.
A hinged knee sleeve can also be incredibly useful when returning to sport from an injury or surgery to aid and protect the movement and recovery of the knee joints and its ligaments. Hinged knee braces may be used to help create stability and protect the cartilage or LCL, MCL, ACL, or PCL ligaments of the knee. Often, athletes such as football players wear hinged knee braces and sleeves to prevent damage from contact or twists that may stress and injure the knee during play.

Sleeve style braces may not be the best choice for patients immediately after surgery due to the difficulty of pulling on over swelling, stitches, surgical wrappings and gauze. We often also do not recommend sleeves for elderly users as they can be quite difficult to pull on if limited motion or strength exists, even with the pull tabs included on the side of the brace.

DonJoy Drytex Wraparound Hinged Knee Brace

DonJoy Drytex Wraparound Hinged Knee Brace

Wraparound Knee Braces

Like sleeve style braces, a wraparound knee brace can also be used to provide support for the knee-joint and related structures. They are easily applied, so it’s perfect for those with reduced mobility such as the elderly or those with a recent injury or surgery who may have trouble applying a sleeve style brace. Wraparound braces usually open up and wrap around the knee to be applied. Velcro or straps allow the brace to be quickly adjusted, closed, and secured in place. These features allow adjustments to be made while wearing and the brace to be applied with care if knee swelling or wounds exist.

Wraparound braces are a great option for those needing a quick re-adjustment or removal once applied. These braces allow the brace to be removed without first removing footwear such as cleats or skates. A doctor or a physical therapist may also recommend this style brace for patients that are non-athletes and just need a brace for daily activities. Because of the Velcro application and the occasional tendency for this brace to shift slightly or come undone we usually do not recommend most wraparound braces for contact and competitive athletics.
Many wraparound braces include side metal hinges or spiral stays for added support to the knee ligaments and cartilage. Hinges may be free moving within a normal range of motion or may contain dials or adjustment screws that lock the hinges and restrict some or all of the knee’s motion. Most post-surgery brace options are wraparound braces with locking hinges that can restrict knee motion and allow healing. As the patient progresses with their rehabilitation adjustments are usually made to the hinge to allow more motion, while still providing support, protection, and stability to the recovering knee.

If you need a good knee brace in either a wraparound or sleeve style, DonJoy braces are an excellent choice and just one of the many quality brands we offer. Contact Hat Trick Sports to discuss our range of braces and what would suit you best.

The Newest Threat to Athletes: Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)

MRSA Infection Skin Abscess

MRSA Infection Skin Abscess

Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is quickly developing into a widespread threat to athletes in all sports as well as the general population. MRSA is a very serious infection that was once confined mostly to hospitals. The infection has recently crossed over to the general population, and is now infecting athletes of all sports and levels.

Bacterial infections in athletes are very common and can greatly hamper their ability to compete and perform at their best, but these infections are usually easily treated with antibiotics such as penicillin, amoxicillin, methicillin, and oxacillin. MRSA is a staphylococcal bacterial infection (commonly known as a staph infection) that has become resistant to many of these antibiotics that doctors commonly prescribe to treat bacterial infections. This creates a very serious problem for both the athlete and the doctors that provide their medical care. There are a few high-powered new antibiotics that currently exist to treat this infection, but if the bacterial strain mutates further and builds up resistance to these drugs too, doctor’s treatment options will be further limited.

The spread and occurrences of MRSA in athletics is increasing. Prior to 2002, resistant staph infections were virtually unheard of in such a healthy population. Many of the first athletic cases were reported in football. Now football players from the high school level to the pros have had outbreaks. Many collegiate teams, including national championship caliber programs, have also had major problems controlling the spread of this infection. MRSA is usually spread by direct person-to-person contact. MRSA is commonly found on the skin or in the nose of healthy people. Having the bacteria present in or on your body does not mean that you will develop infection, and many people live healthy lives without ever developing an infection. Sports such as football, wrestling, and soccer are among the highest risk to spread the infection due to the constant bumping, hitting, and contact with teammates and opponents. These sports generally also have exposed areas of skin and open wounds when practicing or competing that may come in close contact with other athletes. MRSA requires contact to be spread from person to person and is not spread through the air. However, it can be spread by direct contact with contaminated towels or equipment that athletes may share or use during workouts. Once an infection develops in an athlete it can quickly spread throughout a team and to opponents.

Many MRSA infections start as a small skin lesion or pimple, but the bacteria can also travel through the blood stream and settle into internal tissues, such as bone. Skin infections often occur in the area of a previous wound that allowed the bacteria to enter the body. Wounds such as turf burn abrasions, fingernail scratches, or even a small open blister or pimple could allow the infection to enter and manifest. When infected, the first symptoms may yield a small painful red swollen spider bite or boil looking skin lesion. If left untreated the infection will spread to surrounding tissues creating a pus filled abscess. Without treatment the infection then may advance and spread to the bloodstream making it harder to treat and control. Advanced infection symptoms may include shortness of breath, chills, and fever and ultimately could result in death if not properly treated.

Treatment for MRSA requires proper diagnosis. Any infection that does not heal in a timely matter, does not respond to antibiotic therapy, or that is draining pus or other fluid should have MRSA ruled out as a possibility. Diagnosis of MRSA requires a culture of the infected area. The culture is then sent to a lab that will determine if the infection is an antibiotic resistant strain such as MRSA. Many physicians also advocate a sterile incision into the wound to allow proper drainage of pus. The wound should then be covered and treated with special antibiotic ointments and observed during the healing process for worsening or spread to surrounding tissues. Wound dressings should be kept clean and dry and changed twice a day. Hospitalization may be required in some cases. Return to play should not be considered until the wound is healed of all infection and the athlete is no longer at risk of spreading the bacteria to teammates and opponents.

To prevent the spread of MRSA and staphylococcal infections among athletes follow these guidelines:


  • Share shower towels
  • Share razors and equipment
  • Share deodorant
  • Share balms or ointments among teammates or friends
  • Share blankets or pillows at tournaments or on the bus
  • Lay on the floor of the locker room
  • Use community towels on the sidelines to be shared among athletes, including ice buckets and wet towels to cool athletes (use single use disposable towels instead or do not directly touch athletes)
  • Use whirlpools and other common use medical equipment when infected
  • Share beds with friends or teammates without changing the linens first


  • Clean equipment, weights, mats, and work-out machines after each individual use, not each session
  • Maintain a clean locker room, including showers, floors, and carpets
  • Occasionally wipe down and disinfect meeting rooms, desks, and common areas
  • Encourage showering and hair washing with hot water and antibacterial soaps and shampoos after every practice, competition, or workout
  • Frequently wash uniforms, practice gear (including pads and sports braces), and towels in hot water. Add bleach if you can without ruining your clothes
  • Avoid close direct contact with infected individuals
  • Finish all antibiotics prescribed to you by your doctor, unless your doctor tells you otherwise
  • Use gloves when handling, washing, or moving bloody or sweaty equipment, jerseys, or bandages. Throw away used bandages and bloody gauze in red bio-hazard bags
  • Train athletes, coaches, and medical staff to recognize potentially infected wounds and administer basic first aid treatment for wounds
  • Keep all wounds (even small abrasions, turf burns, or scratches) bandaged and covered with an antibiotic ointment when participating. If a wound can not be adequately covered consider excluding the athlete from participation
  • Report any skin abnormalities, lesions, or wounds to your doctor or certified athletic trainer
  • Place and use alcohol-based hand sanitizers in athletic facilities and in medical bags
  • Have medical staff and coaches wash with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, after contact with each patient/ athlete that is bleeding or very sweaty

MRSA is a serious problem that has crossed over from the hospital setting to the general population and athletics. Though it is a threat to athletes and the people they come in contact with, it can often be prevented. By being aware of the signs and symptoms of MRSA, using good hygiene, and carefully following the prevention steps listed above many MRSA cases can be avoided, allowing athletes to continue their training routines and to perform at their top level.

Hat Trick Sports, LLC: Training And Sports Performance Tips, Hints, and News Resource Zone

Hat Trick Sports, LLC Brace and Physical Therapy Supply Company

Hat Trick Sports, LLC Brace and Physical Therapy Supply

Welcome to the Hat Trick Sports education and resource pages.  This resource area provides athletes and active individuals helpful hints, tips, injury information, sports medicine treatment options, advice, and news to aid in their performance, training, and recovery. Hat Trick Sports attempts to display only information and advice that has been well researched and is from unbiased medical and sports performance sources. All articles and information contained herein are either written or carefully inspected prior to posting by the sports medicine and personal training staff at Hat Trick Sports, LLC.  Tips and articles include a wide variety of sports medicine, athletic training, rehabilitation, and training advice as well as performance enhancing guidelines for athletes of all abilities and sports. Following these guidelines is sure to aid and improve  active individual’s and athlete’s overall well-being and health. Please check back often, as we are constantly adding new tips, advice, injury prevention and treatment methods, and news.

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