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Measuring Ankle Proprioception After Sprains

Anyone who has sprained an ankle is at risk for another ankle sprain. To prevent this, physical therapists advise doing exercises to restore the joint's sense of position. The joint's ability to sense movement (speed and direction) is called proprioception.

In this study researchers compared two proprioceptive tests to see if they are both affected after ankle sprain. Eighteen adults with three or more ankle sprains joined the study.

Movement in different directions was measured at three speeds. The subjects reported when they could feel movement and in what direction. The findings showed no link between the two tests. Subjects who could detect movement couldn't always tell the direction.

The authors say the results of their study suggest two things:

  • Proprioception for all ankle movements must be tested separately; there isn't just one test that can be used to measure proprioception
  • Rehab should be directed toward the specific movements impaired, not to
    improve proprioception in general

    Arienne de Jong, MSc, et al. Performance in Different Proprioceptive Tests Does Not Correlate in Ankles with Recurrent Sprain. In Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. November 2005. Vol. 86. No. 11. Pp. 2101-2105.

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