Hinged Brace for Soft Tissue Joint Injury Support (Disease Investigation & Management - Treatment and Care)

Summary Information
Type of technique Health & Management / Disease Investigation & Management / Techniques:
Synonyms and Keywords  
Description A hinged brace stabilises the hock joint in long-legged birds against medio-lateral movement while maintaining the bird's ability to bend and use the leg. (P1.1997.w12)
  • Anaesthetise the bird.
  • Apply padding (microfoam padded tape) to the leg proximal and distal to the affected joint to protect the skin against friction rubbing by the brace.
  • Align the brace along the medial and lateral aspects of the leg, centred on the hock, such that the centre of the hinge matches the point of flexion/extension of the joint.
  • Use stainless steel surgical wire looped through each end of the brace armature and interweave between layers of adhesive tape attaching the brace securely to the padding on the leg.
  • Leave for an adequate length of time to allow healing.
    • In a Mississippi crane with probable medial collateral ligament rupture, the brace was placed for four weeks with a soft bandage providing minimal support for a further week after the brace was removed. (P1.1997.w12)


Appropriate Use (?)
  • To provide mediolateral joint stabilisation while maintaining use of both legs (allowing full range of motion) during healing of soft tissue joint injuries such as medial collateral ligament injury. (P1.1997.w12)
    • This avoids the problems which are seen associated with immobilisation of long-legged birds in slings. (P1.1997.w12)
  • A Mississippi sandhill crane with joint laxity, medial hock swelling and persistent lameness walked normally (no obvious lameness) immediately on recovering from anaesthesia after being fitted with a hinged brace. (P1.1997.w12)
  • Has been used successfully in cranes, storks and flamingos. (P1.1997.w12)
Complications/ Limitations / Risk Risk of rubbing if inadequate padding; risk of inadequate stabilisation if excessive padding or improper fit.
Equipment / Chemicals required and Suppliers
  • Anaesthetic equipment.

  • Hinged brace:

    • Phoenix adjustable hinged elbow brace (Smith & Nephew). This is constructed of a lightweight aluminium alloy. It has a ball-bearing hinge allowing virtually friction-free motion within a normal range of motion. (P1.1997.w12)

    • Metal stops can be used to restrict movement if required. (P1.1997.w12)

    • For smaller birds, the hinged ribs of an umbrella frame have been used. (P1.1997.w12)

  • Microfoam padded tape

  • Adhesive tape

  • Stainless steel surgical wire

Expertise level / Ease of Use This procedure should be carried out by an individual with appropriate clinical training and practical experience.
Cost/ Availability Appropriate hinged brace may not always be available.
Legal and Ethical Considerations Inappropriate use or poor application of this technique may cause further suffering to the bird and have implications under animal welfare legislation.
Author Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD MRCVS (V.w5)
References P1.1997.w12

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