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Altered neuromuscular function and decreased dorsiflexion range of motion (DFROM) have been observed in patients with chronic ankle instability (CAI). Joint mobilizations are indicated for restoring DFROM and dynamic postural control, yet it remains unknown if a mobilization can alter neuromuscular excitability in muscles surrounding the ankle.
To determine the immediate effects of a Maitland grade III anterior-to-posterior joint mobilization on spinal-reflex and corticospinal excitability in the fibularis longus (FL) and soleus (SOL), DFROM, and dynamic postural control.
Single-blinded randomized control trial.
30 patients with CAI randomized into a mobilization (n = 15) or control (n = 15) group.
Maitland grade III anterior-to-posterior joint mobilization.
Spinal-reflex excitability was measured with the Hoffmann reflex, while corticospinal excitability was evaluated with transcranial magnetic stimulation. DFROM was measured seated with the knee extended, and dynamic postural control was quantified with the Star Excursion Balance Test. Separate 2 × 2 repeated-measures ANOVAs were performed for each outcome measure. Dependent t tests were used to evaluate individual differences within groups in the presence of significance.
Spinal-reflex and corticospinal excitability of the SOL and FL were not altered in the mobilization or control group (P > .05). DFROM increased immediately after the mobilization (P = .05) but not in the control group, while dynamic postural control was unchanged in both groups (P > .05).
A single joint-mobilization treatment was efficacious at restoring DFROM in participants with CAI; however, excitability of spinal reflex and corticospinal pathways at the ankle and dynamic postural control were unaffected.
Harkey and Pietrosimone are with the Dept of Exercise and Sports Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC. McLeod is with the Dept of Health and Human Performance, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC. Van Scoit is with the Concorde Therapy Group, Alliance OH. Tevaldis with the Dept of Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Toledo, Toledo, OH. Terada and Gribble are with the Dept of Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY. Address author correspondence to Matthew Harkey at Harkey@unc.edu.