Background: Although postural control deficits have been identified after lateral ankle sprains, objective and subjective comparisons of data before and after injury are limited. The purpose of this project was to prospectively assess and compare the changes in postural control and self-reported functional status in athletes who suffer acute lateral ankle sprains. We evaluated postural control and self-reported functional status before injury and at 1, 7, 14, 21, and 28 days after acute lateral ankle sprain.
Methods: Postural control in single-limb stance and self-reported functional status were evaluated in 460 collegiate athletes during preseason examinations. Twenty-eight athletes suffered a lateral ankle sprain during the competitive season and participated in testing at 1, 7, 14, 21, and 28 days after injury.
Results: Significant deficits in postural control were noted in both the injured and the uninjured ankles at 1 day after injury compared to the baseline measurements taken during the preseason examinations. Significant differences (p < .05) also were noted between the uninjured and injured ankles at 1, 7, and 21 days after injury.
Conclusions: After lateral ankle sprain, postural control deficits occur in the injured and uninjured ankles, suggesting a central impairment in neuromuscular control. Changes in self-reported functional status followed a trend of deficit and improvement that was similar to that shown by the postural control data taken after injury, but the two measures did not strongly correlate.