Purpose: A common explanation for the tendency for ankle inversion sprains to recur is that proprioception is impaired by the initial sprain. It is further hypothesized that the application of tape prevents further sprains by enhancing proprioceptive acuity. The purpose of this study was to determine whether proprioception was impaired in people with recurrent ankle inversion sprain, and whether taping the ankle provided enhanced proprioceptive ability.
Methods: We compared the ability to perceive passive plantarflexion and dorsiflexion movements imposed at the relaxed ankle in 25 subjects with recurrent ankle inversion sprain, with a group of 18 healthy control subjects, matched for age, height, weight, and activity level. Subjects were tested with the ankle both taped and untaped. Detection thresholds were determined at three velocities, 0.1 degrees x s(-1), 0.5 degrees x s(-1), and 2.5 degrees x s(-1). Velocity of the imposed movements and testing of the taped and untaped conditions were randomized.
Results: There was no significant difference in the ability to perceive ankle movements between subjects with sprains and healthy controls at any velocity of movement tested. In addition, there was no significant difference in movement perception between the taped and untaped conditions for either subject group at any velocity.
Conclusion: The ability to detect passive plantarflexion and dorsiflexion movements is not impaired in subjects with recurrent ankle inversion sprain. Furthermore, the protective effect of taping was shown not to arise from enhanced proprioception in the dorsiflexion-plantarflexion plane.