BRACING FOLLOWING SYNDESMOSIS ANKLE INJURY IN ATHLETES

  • S.J. Spaulding

Abstract

The return to sport following an ankle sprain injury may be hampered if the syndesmosis joint between the distal tibia and fibula is involved. Rehabilitation may be prolonged by strain placed on the syndesmosis (Hopkinson et al., 1990) and by pain. Ankle support may decrease mechanical instability, limit range of motion and shorten treatment time (Karlsson et al., 1992, 1993). This study evaluated gait, using braces for support, during recovery from syndesmosis sprain. Five adult subjects who had sustained a syndesmosis sprain during sports activity participated. Subjects walked using; no brace, a semi-rigid orthosis (Sure-step), and a lace-up brace (Swede-0). Trials were conducted during level walking, walking on a step, and on a ramp. Ground reaction force (GRF) data were collected from a force plate (AMTI), amplified, AID converted, stored and evaluated. Kinematic data were monitored using an Optotrak system (Northern Digital). Analysis of the data indicated varied effects of bracing among subjects. Individuals adjust their gait differently, suggesting that there are characteristics of the athlete that may produce differences in brace effectiveness. Subjects were at different stages of recovery following sprain and the sprains may have varied in severity. Brace preference varied among the subjects which may have impacted on gait adaptations. Ankle stability and prevention of recurrent sprains are treatment goals (Eiff et al., 1994) particularly for athletes returning to sport participation. Further research may focus on the type of brace and optimal time and extent of bracing to use for athletic individuals.