THE EFFECTS OF ANKLE BRACING ON SPORTS-SPECIFIC CAPABILITIES
AbstractINTRODUCTION Ankle braces are widely used in athletes. In some professional sports leagues it is mandatory to wear ankle braces in order to get insurance. Even prophylactic bracing is often used in normal sports. The efficiency of ankle joint orthoses was already demonstrated in several studies, and different types of external stabilization devices were compared. Especially the. aspects of mechanical stabilization were discussed in these studies as well as retrospective observations of the prophylactic benefit regarding the prevention of sprains by using orthoses. Neurophysiological or psychological aspects are hardly taken into consideration in the literature when evaluating different types of orthoses. In the presented study the proprioception with regard to the ankle joint and especially its influence by orthoses and the effect of ankle braces on sports- specific capabilities will be discussed. First of all the question is, whether the orthoses have an impact on the proprioception of the ankle joint at all. If there is an influence, then it is of particular importance for a comprehensive judgement to document the degree of influence by each type of orthoses for the injured and not injured ankle joint. By evaluating the results of this study a possible reduction of the proprioception caused by ankle sprains will be investigated as well. This phenomenon of a posttraumatic proprioceptive deficit was already described and controversially discussed in the literature. MATERIALS AND METHODS The influence of four stabilizing devices (aircast brace, . ligafix air-brace, malleoloc-brace, taping) on sportsspecific capabilities and propioceptivity of stable and unstable ankle joints were assessed. Therefore both ankle joints of 18 uninjured volunteers and 23 injured volunteers with an old ankle sprain were tested with two different set-ups (modified Japan-test, 5 point single leg jump test). We used a modular coordination-testsystem with 5 contact plates and a computer monitor that gives in randomised sequence the signal which circles of the 5 plates to jump on. RESULTS The time for both tests as well as reaction time and contact time for each moving direction was measured and calculated by a software program. Regarding the modified Japan-test and the 5 point single leg jump test the injured group achieved showed significant better results (p< 0.01) & (p<0,05) with all stabilizing devices compared to no tape or brace. For the healthy volunteers we could not document any significant difference whether using different braces, tape or not any stabilizing device at all in both test-set-ups. CONCLUSION The tested orthoses as well as the tape bandages significantly improve the sports-specific capabilities of injured ankles. Prophylactic bracing for uninjured ankles does not seem to have any significant impact on the sports-specific abilities in the used setup. Considering the low costs of prophylactic bracing and the reduction of ankle sprains by bracing. brace application can have positive effects in high-risk sports group.
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