The effect of using an ankle brace on the incidence of ankle injuries by analyzing ankle weaknesses in high school athletes
Abstract:Ankle injuries are one of the most common injuries in athletes, and consist mainly of torn or bruised ankle ligaments due to the continual impact of running. Ankle braces are often used in rehabilitation of the injury as they are believed to limit usage of an injured joint so it is not overly stressed upon return to play. Ankle injuries are of special concern to high school athletes today as they are among the weaker and less stretched body parts. In fact, upwards of 65% of athletes report experiencing ankle injuries per year, with up to 75% of those with previous ankle injuries experiencing re-injury (Hubbard, 2010). As ankle injuries only continue to grow in number, current protection and rehabilitation methods must be reexamined. My experiment consisted of an assessment, where people who reported having ankle injuries the past year would be asked to perform various proprioceptive and strength exercises. Methods of protection used while returning to play from injury were also be recorded- usage of ankle brace, tape, or no protection. A comparison of the bracing, taping and non protection groups assessment data was performed. The hypothesis would be that the usage of ankle braces in rehabilitation would have the most significant effect on preventing ankle weakness or re-injury compared to not using a brace, or using tape. This is because the function of ankle braces is to limit the range of motion of previously injured ligaments, preventing overuse and further damage when returning to play.
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Additional Project Information
Firstly, a preliminary ankle injury survey would be implemented the first couple months upon our return to school in the summer. The first step would be to conduct surveys and contact athletes at my high school (PHS) and coaches at other schools. I would also try to contact other coaches in other schools and ask them to implement the survey. If coronavirus is still in effect, or if sample size is too small, I could put out fliers with a money incentive online or physically in different towns. The survey would ask questions about whether one had had an ankle injury in the last year, age, sex, and time since previous ankle injury would be recorded.
The experiment would consist of the usage of an assessment to test the recurrence of ankle sprain. This would be conducted by athletic trainers, or if we are still in Coronavirus would be conducted by me over ZOOM. Important to note that all exercises must be performed barefoot and on a hard surface without the use of any brace, tape etc. Specifically, two proprioceptive exercises and two strength exercises would be used. The first proprioceptive exercise would be single leg balance in which the athlete must balance on one leg for the duration of one minute. The next task would be the same single leg balance test except now having the athlete keep their eyes closed. Both balance exercises data will be recorded in how many seconds the person could maintain balance using a stopwatch without holding onto anything or putting their other foot down. In addition, strength exercises must also be used. The first would include single leg jumping for 1 minute. The second would be single leg squats for 1 minute. In both strengthening exercises assessments the number of repetitions completed in 1 minute would be recorded. One minute’s time would be used to standardize the time amongst exercises and also to allow for enough reps to get the most accurate number. In addition, the subject would also be asked about what methods they used for return to play. The independent variables on the x-axis would include the type of treatment used, either a brace, tape or nothing. The y-axis would contain the average time for balance exercises and amount of repetitions for strength exercises. The data would be averaged for each individual exercise, and error bars would be drawn. Thus one could determine if using an ankle brace was significantly more effective than using tape, or using none at all, for the various strength and proprioceptive exercises. I would then take the rest of the year to analyze the results and draw conclusions from the data I had collected. This would include drawing the graph, in addition to performing statistical analysis’ to see if any other factors or independent variables played a role or had an effect on the outcome of the experiment. This would include an ANOVA test for comparison of time since previous injury and age and a T-test for gender analysis. This would also include researching the results, whether the ankle brace is effective in limiting future injuries.
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