To better understand how ankle sprains negatively affect balance, Kyung-Min Kim, Ph.D., ATC, assistant professor, University of Miami Department of Kinesiology and Sport Sciences, and South Korean colleagues looked at the effects of acute lateral ankle sprain (ALAS) on reactive balance. Their findings were presented in the poster, Reactive Balance Following Acute Lateral Ankle Sprain.5
“Balance impairments are common following ankle sprain and have been consistently associated with a risk of first-time and/or recurrent ankle injuries,” Kim said. However, impairments have been found mainly in a static nature or steady-state of balance, which may not reflect the balance capability needed to recover from an injurious situation. “Instead,” Kim said, “reactive balance, characterized by recovery of balance when it is perturbed, is more relevant in patients with ankle sprain.”
The researchers tested 19 patients with ALAS that had occurred within 72 hours (9M, age=21±2.7yrs, height=173.2±9.2cm, mass=71.7±11.7kg) and 19 healthy subjects without any history of ankle sprain (9M, age=22±2.2yrs, height=170.8±9.2cm, mass=68.9±14.2kg), using the Motor Control Test with the NeuroCom.
“Reactive balance during recovery of upright posture following support surface perturbation was not significantly delayed following ankle sprain,” Kim said. “This indicates that reactive balance may be more regulated by the reflexive control of muscle spindles in ankle muscles, as patients with ankle sprain are known to have joint proprioceptive deficits contributing to their poor steady-state balance.”
“Nonetheless, it may be too risky for patients with acute ankle sprains to be tested for their single-leg (injured) reactive balance,” Kim said. “It was also interesting how proximal joints such as knee and hip joints work with the ankle joints to maintain normal reactive balance in patients with ankle sprains.”
Keith Loria is a freelance writer
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