Objective: To assess ankle function 4 weeks after conservative management and to examine the correlation of function with gait.
Design: A prospective comparison study.
Patients: Thirty patients with grade I or II acute ankle sprains were followed up after 4 weeks of conservative management not involving physical therapy.
Methods: Participants underwent a clinical assessment and had to walk at a normal self-selected walking speed. Their results were compared with the data of 15 healthy subjects.
Main outcome measures: Participants' joint swelling, muscle strength, passive mobility, and pain were assessed. In addition, patients' temporal-spatial, kinematic, and kinetic gait data were measured while walking.
Results: Muscle strength and passive mobility were significantly reduced on the injured side compared with the noninjured side (P < .001). During gait analysis, patients with ankle sprains showed slower walking speed, shorter step length, shorter single support time, reduced and delayed maximum plantar flexion, decreased maximum power, and decreased maximum moment (P < .050) compared with healthy persons. Decreased walking speed was mainly correlated with pain (R = -0.566, P = .001) and deficits in muscle strength of dorsiflexors (R = 0.506, P = .004).
Conclusion: Four weeks after an ankle sprain, patients who did not receive physical therapy showed physical impairments of the ankle that were correlated with gait parameters. These findings might help fine-tune rehabilitation protocols.
Copyright © 2015 American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.