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Kris Smith Joins #MyUnloader Family

Global Orthopaedics Leader Össur Announces TV Presenter and Former Rugby League Player Kris Smith as Ambassador for Revolutionary OA Knee Braces - Unloader One® Lite

Leading non-invasive orthapaedics company Össur are proud to unveil the newest revolutionary addition to their impressive Osteoarthritis range – the Unloader One Lite knee brace – and have named sporting personality Kris Smith as the brace’s ambassador.

The 39-year-old British-born former rugby league star, model and TV presenter was diagnosed 10 years ago with osteoarthritis (OA) in both knees at the end of his sporting career. He has been wearing the Unloader One Lite knee brace now for several months with great success.

Kris will work with Össur to raise awareness of knee OA and highlight the benefits of the Unloader braces as a treatment option during Osteoarthritis Month in October. Research and trends suggest that by 2050, 7 million Australians will suffer from some form of arthritis. Almost all primary knee replacements, whether they are partial or total, are undertaken for osteoarthritis.

The Unloader One Lite knee brace is the lightest functional knee osteoarthritis brace currently available, weighing just 296g. Featuring Össur’s clinically proven 3-Point Leverage System, it is designed to provide pain relief to users with mild to moderate uni-compartmental knee osteoarthritis.

The low-profile sleeve design makes the brace fit discreetly underneath clothing and easy to pull-on. The tension on the dual Dynamic Force Straps, and thereby the amount of unloading’, is easily adjusted through a single SmartDosing™ dial. The Unloader One Lite enables patients to engage in a variety of daily activities without the limitation of constant knee pain.

Kris says living with osteoarthritis has been an ongoing challenge for him. “The pain is constant -I get swelling daily, as well as a lack of extension and flexibility in my knees,” he says.

The father of one says he was keen to try wearing the Unloader braces on his knees to combat the pain rather than considering knee replacement surgery.

Kris recently put Unloader technology to the test when he wore the braces on both knees whilst trekking along the grueling Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea. “I walked 96 kilometres along trails of intense ups and downs under the most extreme underfoot conditions,” Kris says. “It was tough that’s for sure!

“However, without the braces I don't think there’d be a chance I would have completed the trek, as they helped my knees incredibly. Prior to the trek, going about my usual daily activities, the braces had an instant effect in helping to reduce my knee pain. Now that I’m home again, it’s a relief to get through all my normal activities comfortably. The overall effect the braces have had on my lifestyle has been amazing.”

In addition to providing pain relief from knee arthritis, the Unloader One Lite is helpful for people suffering from knee conditions such as degenerative meniscal tears that require load reduction to the area. It is ideal for normal daily activities and low to moderate intensity sport and hobbies.

Rod Cooper, Managing Director – OA & Injury Solutions, Össur Australia, says the company is thrilled to join forces with Kris. “Kris has battled osteoarthritis for many years, so we’re happy to assist him in making his life much easier with the Unloader brace,” he says. “We’re very happy that Unloader has worked so well for him.

“We want everyone who has painful knee conditions to know that they don’t have to suffer any longer, and that the brace will greatly enhance their quality of life.”

Rod adds that the feedback from users has been extremely positive. “People fitted with the brace say they are now getting back to activities such as running and golf with ease and like the simplicity of the light-weight design.

“We are pleased to be offering such an ingenious product and are looking forward to our braces helping many more people in the years to come.”

More about Össur

Össur (NASDAQ OMX: OSSR) is a global leader in non-invasive orthopaedics helping people live a life without limitations. Its business is focused on improving people’s mobility through the delivery of innovative technologies within the fields of braces, supports, prosthetic limbs and compression therapy. A recognised “Technology Pioneer”, Össur invests significantly in research and product development; its award-winning designs ensuring a consistently strong position in the market. Successful patient and clinical outcomes are further empowered via Össur’s educational programs and business solutions. Headquartered in Iceland, Össur has major operations in the Americas, Europe and Asia, with additional distributors worldwide.

Kris Smith Q&A - Kris Smith tells us about his ongoing battle with osteoarthritis and how the Össur Unloader knee braces have helped him manage the condition.

How long have you had issues with your knees?

I have had bad knees since I was in high school. I went through a lot of rapid growing pains which affected my legs so I needed knee operations when I was 17 and 20 to put in a graft of my hamstring and another to put in a plastic insertion which acted like a ligament. So, when I was also diagnosed with OA later on it wasn’t too much of a surprise. I’ve always been quite positive so I thought right, I just have to accept it and get on with it.

Did playing professional rugby league put a lot of pressure on your knees?

Yes, it did. My knees would get so sore after games so I’d put a lot of ice packs on them afterwards. However, from time to time I’d tear the meniscus in a knee or chip some bone off, so at the end of every season I needed an arthroscopy on one or both knees where they’d scrape out and clean the area. It all contributed to me developing osteoarthritis which I was diagnosed with 10 years ago at the end of my sporting career.

How has the condition changed the way you live?

I still train in the gym a lot, I swim, play golf, go on walks and like to keep as active as I can, but the pain is daily. It can get pretty bad – it’s a constant throbbing or aching. I have to sit in a certain way and arrange my knees at certain angles to ease the pain as much as possible. In winter with the cold weather, they are a lot worse. I take supplements like fish oil and primrose oil and it helps a little, but the pain never really goes away, it just eases a little.

How did you hear about bracing as a treatment option?

I first heard about the braces when Össur contacted me after hearing about my osteoarthritis. For the last two months I have been using the Unloader One Lite knee braces on both my legs and they’ve made a huge difference in how far I can comfortably walk. Now I can walk the length of the golf course instead of taking a cart.

How do you find wearing the braces?

The braces take the load or pressure off the bad part of the knee and transfer the pressure onto the other good part of the knee. There’s less pain as a result. I wear them around four times a week whenever I do a spurt of lengthy exercise or run around a lot after my son Ethan who’s seven. They’re so beneficial for anyone who is suffering from the condition who doesn’t want to feel old before their time.

You recently walked the Kokoda Trail – what was that like?

I was asked to walk the Kokoda Trail in support of charities The Mark Hughes Foundation and the National Jockeys Trust along with four other jockeys. We went in August and completed the 96km trail in just three and a half days as we were on a time crunch. Usually people do it over eight days so it was really intense! We were walking up to 14 hours a day going up and down hills. I honestly don’t’ think I would have completed the it without the braces as it was just so gruelling and was really hard on me physically and mentally.

What did you take away from the experience?

Firstly, I was just so proud that I was able to complete such a hard trail with my dodgy knees. Secondly, I had such a newfound respect for the soldiers who walked it. We were carrying 10kg backpacks which was hard enough – they were doing it with 25kg packs day in day out. It was also inspiring to walk alongside the local porters. Whilst we were complaining about it being hard under foot, two of the porters walked the trail in thongs and one of them in bare feet! It gave me a new perspective on life and what can be achieved.

Do you expect later in life to have surgery for a double knee replacement and if so, how do you think you will cope with that?

I do need titanium knee replacements right now. However, once you have them in, the more you need to get them re-done. So for the time being I’m just putting up with the discomfort for as long as I can, although wearing the braces has really helped and will stall that process more. When it comes to the point where I need surgery I’ll just deal with it. It’s inevitable.

What did you learn from your experience on the reality TV show I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here?

That taught me a lot. I learnt about patience, you just can’t rush anything out there. I did a lot of thinking there. I had a lot of insecurities when I was younger. I felt like the little fat kid who never believed he was good enough and wasn’t worthy of love and affection. Those thoughts were still plaguing me even in the jungle. I lay there night after night, thinking, “These demons can eat me alive or I can finally deal with them. I can’t run away from them any longer.”
That began a process of addressing my fears step by step. I learnt to value myself and rationalised that I had a lot of great qualities and that nobody’s perfect. The experience turned my life around and for that I’m grateful.

What’s your next big challenge coming up?

I’m currently training for both the Melbourne Marathon and Tough Mudder. I’m happy to say with the help of the braces every day I’m hitting new fitness goals that I never thought I would achieve. I’m at a point where I don’t want my knees to hamper the rest of my life anymore and make excuses for it. It’s great to finally be able to say, ‘Let’s see just how far these knees will take me now.’