A Randomized Controlled Trial Comparing Rehabilitation Efficacy in Chronic Ankle Instability

in Journal of Sport Rehabilitation

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Cynthia J. Wright
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Shelley W. Linens
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Mary S. Cain
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There is minimal patient-oriented evidence regarding the effectiveness of interventions targeted to reduce symptoms associated with chronic ankle instability (CAI). In addition, clinicians aiming to prioritize care by implementing only the most effective components of a rehabilitative program have very little evidence on comparative efficacy.


To assess the comparative efficacy of 2 common ankle rehabilitation techniques (wobble-board [WB] balance training and ankle strengthening using resistance tubing [RT]) using patient-oriented outcomes.


Randomized controlled trial.




40 patients with CAI randomized into 2 treatment groups: RT and WB. CAI inclusion criteria included a history of an ankle sprain, recurrent “giving way,” and a Cumberland Ankle Instability Tool (CAIT) score ≤25.


Participants completed 5 clinician-oriented tests (foot-lift test, time-in-balance, Star Excursion Balance Test, figure-of-8 hop, and side-hop) and 5 patient-oriented questionnaires (CAIT, Foot and Ankle Ability Measure [FAAM], Activities of Daily Living [ADL] and FAAM Sport scale, Short-Form 36 [SF-36], and Global Rating of Function [GRF]). After baseline testing, participants completed 12 sessions over 4 wk of graduated WB or RT exercise, then repeated baseline tests.

Main Outcome Measures:

For each patient- and clinician-oriented test, separate 2 × 2 RMANOVAs analyzed differences between groups over time (alpha set at P = .05).


There was a significant interaction between group and time for the FAAM-ADL (P = .04). Specifically, the WB group improved postintervention (P < .001) whereas the RT group remained the same (P = .29). There were no other significant interactions or significant differences between groups (all P > .05). There were significant improvements postintervention for the CAIT, FAAM-Sport, GRF, SF-36, and all 5 clinician-oriented tests (all P < .001).


A single-exercise 4-wk intervention can improve patient- and clinician-oriented outcomes in individuals with CAI. Limited evidence indicates that WB training was more effective than RT.

Level of Evidence:

Therapy, level 1b.

Wright is with the Athletic Training Program, Whitworth University, Spokane, WA. Linens is with the Dept of Human Physiology, University of Oregon, Eugene. Cain is with the Dept of Kinesiology and Health, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA.

Wright (cwright@whitworth.edu) is corresponding author.
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