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Background: Neuromuscular training (NMT) has been shown to be effective in preventing recurrent ankle injuries. However, the NMT effect during the off-season in athletes who wear and those who do not wear an ankle brace during their sport season remains undetermined.
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of an off-season bracefree neuromuscular ankle training program on ankle functional ability among female athletes who wore and those who did not wear an ankle brace during the sport season.
Study Design: This study included a pre- and posttest 2-group cohort.
Methods: In this study, division II female athletes (n = 31) participated: 15 wore an ankle brace during their competitive sports season (brace-reliant), whereas the remaining 16 had never worn an ankle brace (brace-naïve). Subjects completed a 4-phase, 6-week neuromuscular ankle training program incorporated into an off-season conditioning program. Subjects were provided instruction and were asked to complete the 10-minute progressive program 3 times per week for 6 weeks. Subjective and objective measures of ankle functional ability were collected before and after the 6-week intervention. Subjective measures involved the subjects completing the Foot and Ankle Ability Measures, including a global rating of condition and the TAMPA Scale for Kinesiophobia. Objective measures of ankle functional ability included single-leg hop distance and single-leg balance with eyes closed duration.
Results: The brace-reliant group experienced significant improvement (P < .05) in 3 of the 4 objective measures of functional ankle stability and this improvement was greater than that experienced by the brace-naïve group on the single-leg hop distance bilaterally.
Conclusions: A brace-free NMT program during the off-season improved objective ankle functional ability among female athletes who routinely wear ankle braces during competition. Athletes who wear ankle braces may exhibit neuromuscular and functional performance deficits, and they may have a greater potential for improving these measures compared with those who do not wear ankle brace.
Digital USD Citation
Koeninger, Katelyn; Markus, Jillian; James, Linsey; Thomas, Kristen; Neitzke, Heidi; Topp, Robert; and Brosky, Joseph A., "An Off-Season Brace-Free Neuromuscular Ankle Training Program Among Brace- Reliant and Nonbrace-Reliant Division II Female Athletes" (2017). School of Nursing and Health Science: Faculty Scholarship. 22.