Frequently Asked Questions

I lost three weeks of vacation and two weeks of sick leave because I sprained my ankle badly and then resprained it the first week back to work. What can you tell me about preventing a third sprain? I need this job. I am desperate!

The cost of ankle sprains and repeated (recurrent) sprains is the focus of a recent study from The Netherlands. Though this comes from across the ocean, the information is still very easily applied to the American population as well. Everyday 23,000 Americans sprain their ankles. The cost in terms of work absenteeism, lost productivity, and medical expenses is in the millions each year. With health care reform being a hot topic these days, researchers are turning their focus and attention on finding ways to cut costs. One of those ways is to prevent re-injuries like ankle sprains. Early efforts to investigate this particular problem has shown that a program of proprioceptive training can reduce the risk of repeated ankle sprains by 50 per cent or more. Proprioceptive exercises are designed to restore the joint's sense of position change. Finely tuned proprioception is important so that the foot and ankle respond to tiny changes in position. Good proprioception allows the ankle to readjust its position when you walk on uneven ground, step on a rock, or get pushed off balance suddenly. Without an accurate sense of position, the ankle may twist or rotate too far in one direction before pulling back. And by that time, it's too late and another sprain has occurred. Ankle rehab has a major role in restoring normal joint function. A physical therapist can help you regain proprioceptive sense, motion, and strength. Specific training for balance, postural control, and proprioception is essential. To avoid further sick leave, you can ask the therapist for a home program to work out on your own as much as possible.

Maarten D. W. Hupperets, PhD. Potential Savings of a Program to Prevent Ankle Sprain Recurrence. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. November 2010. Vol. 38. No. 11. Pp. 2194-2200.

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