Imitation is the best form of flattery...so they say. But when it comes to decompression bracing, there is little question that the original is still the best and there is nothing flattering about the sub-par imitation products.
A side-by-side comparison of all products on the market was recently conducted for the medically-coded version of the DDS (called the DDS 500) and all its competitors. The summary from that comparison is below for your reading enlightenment and education.
It is important to note that there are competing decompression braces that indeed cost less than Worlds Best Back Brace's DDS 300, but before you make a purchasing decision based on price alone, take the time to read this summary. After knowing the facts we here at Worlds Best Back Brace are confident you will purchase from us.
As you will read below there are many reasons the DDS 300 excels including lumbar curve, diversity in sizing, air pumps, quality of materials and craftsmanship, years in the market/experience, availability of product and research data, customer service and the fact that the DDS brace is the originator/inventor of decompression bracing.
Let’s take a look at each one of these categories individually.
The DDS 300 is the only brace on the market that has an integrated, purposely-designed lumbar curve engineered into the construct of the brace. To us this is not only impressive; it is a no-brainer. Not having this feature is like a shoe with no sole—yes it looks like a shoe from certain vantage points, but it just isn’t very effective.
We’re not saying the braces without lumbar curves aren’t at all effective at decompressing the spine, we just saying that, because of this design omission, logic dictates that they simply can’t be as effective as the DDS 300. To back up this logic, we proudly publish the results of our own study on distractive force. Calculating the brace-to-body surface area using the psi generated in each individual vertical air chamber multiplied by total chambers in the brace, the distractive force can be measured. And, according to the study, a DDS 300 brace can generate up to just under 111 lbs. of distractive force! Imagine suspending yourself in the air by holding onto a pull-up bar at the gym with 111 lbs. of iron weights strapped to your ankles. Get the picture? That is a very impressive amount of distractive force. But unlike the iron weights-to-the-ankles concept, the decompression braces gently, comfortably and continuously work to decompress your spine. No wonder so many patients love this brace. With that kind of gravity offsetting ability, spines everywhere are able to breathe a sigh of relief.
Another benefit of the integrated lumbar curve is how effectively it targets the L5 disc. Approximately 86 percent of all low back issues occur at the L5. The L5 is the very bottom of the “shock absorber totem pole” so to speak. As such it takes the most abuse…a compounding effect of all the gravity, trauma and motion one puts on his or her spine through the course of his or her life. Below the L5 is the solid mass of the sacrum bone, the bottom of which is the tail bone. Knowing the abuse the L5 gets and the high probability of its damage or deterioration at some point during its lifespan, DDS engineers had its vulnerability in mind when they began at the drawing board designing the DDS 300. In fact, the desire to target the L5 was the main inspiration for the lumbar curve in the first place. And target it it does. No other decompression brace can claim this. The results of wearing the DDS 300 vs. other braces without this element of engineering genius can be felt in the form of unmatched relief. The others simply leave the L5 without the decompression aid it truly needs which can severely prolong the recovery of thisoverly abused disc.
Another important point to consider regarding the lumbar curve is comfort level. Wearing a decompression back brace without the lumbar curve vs. wearing the DDS 300 with the lumbar curve is like wearing tube socks vs. form fitted socks. Or it can be compared to wearing a cheap suit or dress vs. a custom tailored suit or dress. The latter in each case just fits better and feels better. And, just as a tube sock will tend to slip on the foot and bunch up, so too do the non-lumbar curved, (or shall we say the non-form-fitted) decompression braces. A testament to this can be found in one review written by an actual customer of one of the imitation braces. Ayman A. writes, “It’s ok for my back but not very well. It keeps moving up or down when I sit or sleep.”
From a manufacturing and logistic standpoint, producing a product in the least amount of sizes as possible is not only easier, but a lot less expensive. (Think less tooling, inventory, etc.) Therefore, if a company has its priorities on the mighty dollar vs. what’s actually best for the end user, that company will cut corners wherever possible…and sizing options is usually on the chopping block first (right behind quality of materials, which we will cover later on in this summary). On one extreme in our comparison group, the DDS 300 is available in 10 different sizes. On the other extreme one competing brand is available in only 2 sizes. The way this company and other manufacturers get around the sizing issue is by directing customers to use the provided Velcro extension piece which can extend the brace’s circumference by up to 8 inches. While this fix may indeed guarantee one can get an otherwise-undersized brace to fit around the torso, when it comes to decompression effectiveness it is less than ideal. Common sense dictates that the less surface area covered by the part of the brace that actually has vertical air cambers, which is what generates the brace’s decompression functionality, the less effective the brace will be at decompressing and overall distractive force will suffer.
According to an internal study performed by the engineers of the DDS 300, testing shows that to achieve optimal distractive force, the vertical air chambers in the brace must cover at least 80 percent of the circumference of the torso. Using an extension piece to rig a brace to fit a circumference larger than the brace would otherwise be able to accommodate permits the vertical air chambers to be situated farther toward the back of the torso, and that can decrease its distractive effectiveness by as much as 30 percent, according to the DDS engineers.
To be clear, DDS also offers an 8-inch extension piece. However, it is clearly advertise that the use of this extension piece is to accommodate individuals who may have gained a couple inches around the torso due to lack of physical activity, and who plan on losing those inches once pain resides and activity picks back up.
For reasons we cannot understand, many of the air pumps in our comparison group are of the foot-pump variety. While on the surface this may seem logical (legs are stronger than arms therefore it stands to reason one would have an easier time pumping up a brace using a foot-air pump rather than a hand-air pump), the reality is, in our experience as a result of our hands-on (or shall we say feet-on) use of these devices, the foot pump is simply a bad idea. The reasons are as follows:
Stability. Every foot pump we tried had some stability challenges. The pump frames and substructure are made of lightweight plastic with a narrow stance. The lack of weight and girth made it easy to inadvertently flip the pump if the foot was not kept dead center on the pedal. For those who are without back and sciatica pain and who still have the dexterity of youth, this may not be too much of a challenge. But many, if not most, of those who would likely be users of a decompression back brace are older and in pain. Some are in so much pain that asking them to raise a leg even a few inches off the ground and control its position and pressure in order to compress the pumps pedal all the while maintaining body balance is simply too much to ask. For this reason alone the hand-air pump is highly preferable.
Pressure Gauge: Another disturbing fact regarding most the pumps in our comparison group (the foot pumps included) is the lack of a visible pressure gauge. Each brace has a recommended psi level for the brace to reach its maximum efficiency. Without a pressure gauge how is one to know when that psi is reached so they can cease pumping? Too much pumping will over-inflate the brace and may cause damage to the air bladder. Some of the no-gauge pumps have air pressure release valves set to the ideal pressure level (this means the pump will inflate the brace until the brace reaches a predetermined psi at which level the outgoing air will no longer enter the brace, rather it will escape via the release valve). While this mechanism will prevent over inflation for sure, it does nothing to notify the user that he or she has reached that level of inflation and further “pumping” is in vain.
For these reasons, our vote is clearly for the two hand-air pumps in our comparison group (DDS and one other) that have easy-to-read pressure gauges. (It is ironic, however, that the competing hand-air pump in question here broke during the process of inflating the brace. We had to finish inflating the competing brace using the DDS hand-air pump!)
Regarding air hose connectivity, many of the braces in our comparison have the exact same design as DDS's…which is a very effective spring-loaded clamping mechanism that ensures great connectivity. There were a couple exceptions however that left us scratching our heads. One of them connects via threading requiring the user to screw the two together to achieve a tight, leak-free attachment. This was not an easy task for us as healthy middle aged adults. We hate to think of how elderly patients might struggle with accomplishing this task. Then once the brace is inflated, the unscrewing begins.
Another product in our comparison group required one to use his or her fingernail or find a pointed object in order to deflate the brace. Highly inconvenient and tacky.
For the purpose of our comparison we kept our evaluation of the quality of workmanship and materials to a superficial level. In other words we did not dive into strength testing, durability testing and the like. This means we don’t have actual data to back up our opinions. That said, our opinion is that when it comes to quality, DDS 300 has the edge over the rest. The best way to explain our opinion is to liken this comparison to the comparison of automobiles. If your first experience with an automobile was with, say, an mid-level Ford sedan you might be of the opinion that it is of good quality, fit, feel and performance. Then a few moments later you get to sit in and test drive a top end BMW or Mercedes. That’s when you have your AH-HA! moment. You come to understand the possibilities and you raise your bar as far as what quality means to you.
Such is the case with the DDS 300. Once you touch it, feel it and wear it after having touched, felt and worn any or all of the other braces in this comparison, you realize which brace sets the benchmark for quality in the industry. The DDS 300 feels slightly heavier than its competitors (due most likely to stouter materials and more of them), and it is noticeably softer to the touch due to its 100 percent cotton inner lining.
Additionally the DDS 300 is machine washable. None of the other braces in our comparison are. They vary from, “Do not get wet” warnings to “Do not submerge in the water” warnings. Household washing machines are not exactly easy on whatever is being washed and the fact that we are confident enough to encourage our customers to machine wash the product says a lot about how well it is built. And, since all the braces in our comparison are one-the-body orthotics, the braces are bound to get soiled and in some cases downright smelly. Not being able to wash one is in our opinion potentially quite disgusting.
We are the inventor of the decompression back brace and as such hold four US patents, two utility patents for the inflatable mechanism of the lumbar brace, one utility patent for the lumbar brace with anterior and posterior panels and one design patent for the hand-air pump.
With complete disregard for the US legal system, despite all the patents, several manufacturers have emerged producing knock off versions of our DDS 300. One of these companies is an ambitious Chinese-based manufacturer which appears to be providing its decompression brace to the market under a private labeling program. As best as we can tell, that one manufacturer is the source behind four of the braces in our comparison. We reached this opinion because the four braces in question are undeniably similar including materials, look and feel.
Something else to consider: Each of the knock off designs is represented/labeled by companies who offer the product on an “also-have” basis. That is to say decompression bracing is not their only focus; it’s just one of many of their focuses.
With us decompression bracing is all we do. And we don’t just put our vertical air pressure technology in the 300, we also have it in the DDS Double (like the 300 but taller…for taller folks) and in the cervical traction collar called the DDS MAX. When you put all your focus, time, energy and attention on one thing and one thing only, you tend to do that one thing better than those who must dilute their focus onto a more diverse and varied product line.
It’s not just that the DDS 300 is the original innovator in the decompression category of back bracing. It’s one thing to be clever enough to invent something new and effective, it’s an entirely other thing to successfully bring a product to market and then remain the leader in that market. For that we give we give ourselves many kudos.
Any one of the braces in our test group can be found on the Internet. But when it comes to backup documentation, study results, support material and overall general educational information with which the average doctor or patient may educate him or herself on the subject of decompression bracing, we outshine the other companies similar to the way the sun outshines the dimmest star in the firmament. There just is no comparison, and to us, this is yet another sign of superiority. A company with nothing to hide hides nothing. A company who has your best interest at heart goes the extra mile to help hold your hand through the educational process, decision making process, purchase process and customer service process. This describes DDS to a T.
On this front, DDS has many before-and-after MRIs and X-RAYs, case reports from MDs, patient surveys with 300+ patients participating and a whole slew of testimonials from MDs, DCs, PTs, nurses and patients. In other words, DDS has the best product and the best story to tell in support of that product.
If you are in the market for a decompression back brace our recommendation is for the DDS 300. As you can see it is the most effective, best-built brace of the group and it is backed with outstanding educational support and documentation. It is the brace that started the lumbar decompression brace revolution and we have no doubt it will be the one at the top for many years to come. DDS 300 is the way to go.
One might say our conclusions are biased, despite the extent to which we have gone to explain ourselves. To that we say, try it for yourself. If you are still considering purchasing a competing decompression brace, we invite you to do so and buy ours as well. If after doing your own side-by-side comparison (looking and touching the materials used, examining the construction quality including the stitching, observing the very noticeable lumbar curve on the 300 and the lack thereof of the competing brace, experiencing the comfort levels of each as you wear them both for a day or two) you do not agree that the DDS 300 is a superior product, we would be glad to take it back and refund your money. That’s how confident we are.
"I have not had a sleepless night since about a week after I started wearing the DDS back brace." -Jim Gillespie, Kansas City, MO
"Wearing the DDS back brace gave me so much immediate relief I couldn't believe it. I was astonished that after wearing it only 2 hours I would get 8 hours of relief!" -Terri Gigilotti, Physical Therapist, Medford, MA
"I have been without pain from the day I put the DDS back brace on over three months ago. To say my life has improved since then would be an understatement. I invest one hour in the evening wearing it. I get out of bed in the morning like a normal person. I can even lie on my stomach while sleeping. There is no amount of money I wouldn’t have paid for this relief. If you suffer from lower back pain, I’d give DDS a try if I were you. Good Luck!" -Richard Theriault, APICS and CPIM certified eletrical engineer at ITT Exelis, Van Nuys, CA.
The DDS 300 treats the CAUSE of your pain. Other braces only treat the SYMPTOM of pain.