The second-worst moment of living through my early-2018 wrist injury (a broken radius, eventually mended by a plate and three screws) happened immediately after removing the cast. For months, I’d felt the strength coming back to my fingers and the pain draining out of my nerves. But then, without the support of all that resin and gauze, I suddenly didn’t have the strength for so much as a wave hello. I couldn’t even muster a reserved queen-of-England-style wave, let alone the emphatic Forrest-Gump-style waves I prefer to greet people with. I was back to square one.
The Mobius X8 wrist brace is what I needed once I got to square two. Mobius tends to focus on the motorsports industry, and also produces a unique X8 knee brace. The wrist brace stands out for its open-palm design, achieving its support across the back of the hand and around the very base of the palm. A simple velcro strap holds it on your forearm and a soft neoprene loop hooks to your middle finger to center it on the back of your hand, but the real magic happens in Mobius’ “Continuous Cable Routing System,” or CCRS. Nearly identical to a BOA-style ratcheting enclosure, a cable criss-crosses a generously padded x-shaped panel that rests in the slightly concave spot between the wrist and the fatty base of the palm.Those crisscrossing wires attach to both of two hinged plates that make up the structure of the X8. That hinge’s range of motion can be controlled with a small set screw that works like a derailleur’s limit screw, preventing the X8 from swinging farther back than your P.T. coach may yet be ready to allow, though there’s no such mechanism to limit forward motion. I used that feature only very early in my time on the X8 when I was in the painful road-bike-only stage of recovery. It was a simple way to take the weight off my muscles and put it on the brace. But quickly, the CCRS system was doing all the heavy lifting. Depending on how rigorous my ride or how much support I wanted, I could adjust the tension accordingly. Tightening the cables limited how far I could flex my hand. But simultaneously, the pressure that those tighter cables put on the padded panel at the base of my palm would stiffen the panel and wedge it farther into the joint, limiting how much I could fold it down in the other direction as well.
The whole system works far better if you wear gloves under it. I tend to prefer riding with my hands au naturale, but gloves are probably a good idea when recovering from a hand injury. Especially when used with a glove that offers some padding or structure, the X8 would feel like it was one with it, and thus one with my hand.
Early in my recovery, I ran the CCRS dial nearly as tight as I could stand, and it distributed the load on my still-weak joint onto the brace itself. And during impacts that might otherwise cause me to buckle, the brace was there to take it instead. I did find myself wishing I could get some more side-to-side support, but that would require more structure around the hand itself. The minimal material meant my left brake, thumb trigger, grip and even glove felt exactly like the right ones. Just as it should be on any well-designed support and protection device, I eventually forgot I was wearing it, which will be even easier now that Mobius also makes the X8 in dark gray and black instead of just bright white and yellow.
The $200 X8 isn’t cheap, especially if you’ll only be wearing it temporarily during rehabilitation. I wore mine for less than two months. But it technically is a medical device, and you can very likely get your insurance to cover it. My surgeon said he would prescribe using it just as happily as he would any normal black-canvas-and-velcro brace he might have in his own office. And you never know, even if you have to pay for it out of pocket, you might get another chance to use it again in the future (knock on wood).