Open to all with no membership fees, plus bonus time off work, special treatment from friends and family, and a continuous stream of some of the biggest names in action sports signing up, it’s no surprise that the ‘broken riders club’ continues to grow and recruit large volumes of literal fresh blood every year. Unfortunately, joining is also associated with excessive sofa-time, a good deal of staring out of the window with sad eyes, and the accompaniment of unwanted accessories such as crutches and slings, not to mention the lashings of pain and agony. Luckily here in Southern Germany, we have one orthopedic technology and sport protection brand looking to set things right and get you back on track pronto.
Ortema was established over 30 years ago with intentions to become far more than just a logo on a generic product; the company offers the complete package from the very best in medical consultation, surgery and rehabilitation before sending patients out the door with custom-made, protective supports for nigh-on any body part. Turn up as a regular patient or wounded soldier of just about any sport, whether it be skiing, hockey, motocross, and of course MTB and you’ll be well looked after. This year Pinkbike made the trip down to their Markgroeningen HQ, near Stuttgart, for a look at their bike protection line, a ride in the local woods and to get a detailed insight into the creation of their number one selling custom product – the K-Com knee brace in all its carbon-titanium glory.
Back at the clinic, chief physician Dr. Joerg Richter checks out the damage with a patient. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is the most commonly injured in the knee with some 100,000 people suffering problems every year in Germany alone. With many more struggling with PCL, painful meniscus injuries and early arthritis symptoms, Ortema has developed one of the best supports for knee stabilisation alongside its own team of medical experts – the K-Com brace. Time to find out how these things are put together!
All very impressive, but we had to ask; why spend so much time and energy in the production of a custom-fitted brace like this when there are other companies out there taking the easy route of standardised small, medium and large offerings for less money?
For Ortema it's the safety aspect; only a knee brace with the perfect fit can offer the highest level of protection against injury or the level of stability required after damage has been done. A precision tailoring also prevents the number one reason you might want to leave your brace at home – slippage. If a brace slides down the leg and doesn’t maintain the optimum position, it will inhibit movement and potentially also fail in its protective duties.
To sum, a custom brace means better fit, less movement inside the brace, no slipping so better protection. Bear in mind Ortema are also designing their knee braces for specific anatomical needs and different diagnosis (ACL, bilateral or PCL damage). As we've seen, only the lightest and strongest material (carbon and titanium) is used to build the K-Com and every customer can personalize their brace with their name, number, logo or even whole colorways. Pretty neat. Until next time Stuttgart...