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To determine whether a neuromuscular rehabilitation program can improve postural stability and ankle-evertor strength and to examine the temporal changes and persistence of the rehabilitation effects in athletes with chronic ankle instability (CAI).
A total of 21 national women field hockey players participated in this study (CAI, n = 12; control, n = 9).
Isokinetic ankle-evertor strength (peak torque [PT], total work [TW]) at 30°/s, 60°/s, 90°/s, and 120°/s, mediolateral stability index (MSI), and dynamic stability test (TCT). Data were recorded at baseline, 6 wk, and 24 wk.
At baseline, isokinetic evertor strength was comparable between groups. At 6 wk, the CAI group demonstrated significantly increased eccentric PT and TW at 30°/s and 60°/s and increased concentric/eccentric TW at 90°/s. The control group showed significantly increased concentric TW at 30°/s and increased concentric PT and TW at 90°/s. At 24 wk, except for eccentric PT at 60°/s and 120°/s, concentric/eccentric PT and TW were significantly increased in the CAI group. The control group showed significantly increased TW at all angular velocities regardless of contraction mode. The CAI group exhibited significant increases in concentric/eccentric evertor PT and TW at 120°/s in comparison with the control group. MSI and TCT decreased in both groups at 6 wk; however, the CAI group demonstrated significant increases in both measures at 24 wk, whereas the control group showed no significant change.
The results suggest that the neuromuscular rehabilitation program had an immediate effect on gaining eccentric evertor strength and improving postural control and appeared to contribute to enhancing the evertor strength of unstable ankles in the longer term. On the other hand, improved postural stability did not seem to persist.
T. Kim is with the Dept of Marine Sports, Pukyong National University, Busan, Korea. E. Kim and Choi are with the Dept of Physical Education, Korea National Sport University, Seoul, Republic of Korea.