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Erik A. Wikstrom and Patrick O. McKeon

Multiple treatment options have been shown to improve dorsiflexion range of motion (DFROM) group means in patients with chronic ankle instability (CAI). However, not all patients with CAI respond equally to these treatments. The aim of this study was to identify predictors of successfully improving dorsiflexion range of motion (DFROM) in patients with CAI. Patients with <11.41 cm of DFROM had a 98% probability of a meaningful DFROM improvement following ankle joint mobilizations. Individual predictors of success for plantar massage and calf stretching were also identified and resulted in >92% posttest probabilities. Simple pretreatment assessments can dramatically improve treatment success probability following STARS in patients with CAI.

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Erik A. Wikstrom and Robert B. Anderson

The purpose of this investigation was to determine if stereotypical patterns of gait initiation are altered in those with posttraumatic ankle osteoarthritis. Ten subjects, five with unilateral ankle osteoarthritis and five uninjured controls, participated. Subjects completed the SF-36 and Ankle Osteoarthritis Scale to quantify self-reported disability as well as 10 dual-limb static stance trials and 10 gait initiation trials with each leg. Center of pressure outcomes were calculated for static balance trials while the peak center of pressure excursions were calculated for each phase of gait initiation. The results indicate greater self-reported disability (P < .05) and worse static postural control (P < .05) in the ankle osteoarthritis group. Nonstereotypical patterns were also observed during the first and third phases of gait initiation in those with ankle osteoarthritis. The results of this pilot study suggest that supraspinal motor control mechanisms may have changed in those with posttraumatic ankle osteoarthritis.

Open access

Erik A. Wikstrom, Sajad Bagherian, Nicole B. Cordero, and Kyeongtak Song

Clinical Scenario: Chronic ankle instability (CAI) is a complex musculoskeletal condition that results in sensorimotor and mechanical alterations. Manual therapies, such as ankle joint mobilizations, are known to improve clinician-oriented outcomes like dorsiflexion range of motion, but their impact on patient-reported outcomes remains less clear. Focused Clinical Question: Do anterior-to-posterior ankle joint mobilizations improve patient-reported outcomes in patients with chronic ankle instability? Summary of Key Findings: Three studies (2 randomized controlled trials and 1 prospective cohort) quantified the effect of at least 2 weeks of anterior-to-posterior ankle joint mobilizations on improving patient-reported outcomes immediately after the intervention and at a follow-up assessment. All 3 studies demonstrated significant improvements in at least 1 patient-reported outcome immediately after the intervention and at the follow-up assessment. Clinical Bottom Line: At least 2 weeks of ankle joint mobilization improves patient-reported outcomes in patients with chronic ankle instability, and these benefits are retained for at least a week following the termination of the intervention. Strength of Recommendation: Strength of recommendation is grade A due to consistent good-quality patient-oriented evidence.

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Mutlu Cug, Erik A. Wikstrom, Bahman Golshaei, and Sadettin Kirazci


Both female athletes’ participation in soccer and associated injuries have greatly increased in recent years. One issue is the 2–9 times greater incidence of noncontact anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries in female athletes relative to male athletes in comparable sports. Several factors such as limb dominance and sporting history have been proposed to play a role in ACL incidence rates between male and female athletes. However, evidence about the effects of these factors and how they interact with sex is mixed, and thus no consensus exists.


To quantify the effects of sports participation, limb dominance, and sex on dynamic postural control and knee-joint proprioception.


Cross-sectional study.


University research laboratory.


19 male soccer players, 17 female soccer players, 19 sedentary men, and 18 sedentary women.


Joint-position sense was tested using reproduction of passive positioning on a Biodex isokinetic dynamometer (30°, 45°, and 60° from 90° of knee flexion). Three Star Excursion Balance Test directions were used to assess dynamic postural control.

Main Outcome Measure:

Normalized reach distance (% of leg length) in the anterior, posteromedial, and posterolateral directions on each leg quantified dynamic postural control. Average absolute error and constant error for both limbs quantified joint-position sense.


Posteromedial reach distance was significantly better in soccer players than sedentary individuals (P = .006). Anterior reach distance was significantly better (P = .04) in sedentary individuals than soccer players. No limb-dominance or sex differences were identified for dynamic postural control, and no differences in absolute- or constant-error scores were identified.


Sporting history has a direction-specific impact on dynamic postural control. Sporting history, sex, and limb dominance do not influence knee-joint proprioception when tested in an open kinetic chain using passive repositioning.

Open access

Erik A. Wikstrom, Cole Mueller, and Mary Spencer Cain

Context: Lateral ankle sprains (LAS) have one of the highest recurrence rates of all musculoskeletal injuries. An emphasis on rapid return to sport (RTS) following LAS likely increases reinjury risk. Unfortunately, no set of objective RTS criteria exist for LAS, forcing practitioners to rely on their own opinion of when a patient is ready to RTS. Purpose: To determine if there was consensus among published expert opinions that could help inform an initial set of RTS criteria for LAS that could be investigated in future research. Evidence Acquisition: PubMed, CINHL, and SPORTDiscus databases were searched from inception until October 2018 using a combination of keywords. Studies were included if they listed specific RTS criteria for LAS. No assessment of methodological quality was conducted because all included papers were expert opinion papers (level 5 evidence). Extracted data included the recommended domains (eg, range of motion, balance, sport-specific movement, etc) to be assessed, specific assessments for each listed domain, and thresholds (eg, 80% of the uninjured limb) to be used to determine RTS. Consensus and partial agreement were defined, a priori, as ≥75% and 50% to 75% agreement, respectively. Evidence Synthesis: Eight domains were identified within 11 included studies. Consensus was reached regarding the need to assess sport-specific movement (n = 9, 90.9%). Partial agreement was reached for the need to assess static balance (n = 7, 63.6%). The domains of pain and swelling, patient reported outcomes, range of motion, and strength were also partially agreed on (n = 6, 54.5%). No agreement was reached on specific assessments of cutoff thresholds. Conclusions: Given consensus and partial agreement results, RTS decisions following LAS should be based on sport-specific movement, static balance, patient reported outcomes, range of motion, and strength. Future research needs to determine assessments and cutoff thresholds within these domains to minimize recurrent LAS risk.

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Sajad Bagherian, Khodayar Ghasempoor, Nader Rahnama, and Erik A. Wikstrom

Context: Preparticipation examinations are the standard approach for assessing poor movement quality that would increase musculoskeletal injury risk. However, little is known about how core stability influences functional movement patterns. Objective: The primary purpose of this study was to determine the effect of an 8-week core stability program on functional movement patterns in college athletes. The secondary purpose was to determine if the core stability training program would be more effective in those with worse movement quality (ie, ≤14 baseline functional movement screen [FMS] score). Design: Quasi-experimental design. Setting: Athletic training facility. Participants: One-hundred college athletes. Main Outcome Measures: Functional movement patterns included the FMS, lateral step-down, and Y balance test and were assessed before and after the 8-week program. Intervention: Participants were placed into one of the 2 groups: intervention and control. The intervention group was required to complete a core stability training program that met 3 times per week for 8 weeks. Results: Significant group × time interactions demonstrated improvements in FMS, lateral step-down, and Y balance test scores in the experimental group relative to the control group (P < .001). Independent sample t tests demonstrate that change scores were larger (greater improvement) for the FMS total score and hurdle step (P < .001) in athletes with worse movement quality. Conclusions: An 8-week core stability training program enhances functional movement patterns and dynamic postural control in college athletes. The benefits are more pronounced in college athletes with poor movement quality.

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Christopher J. Burcal, Alejandra Y. Trier, and Erik A. Wikstrom


Both balance training and selected interventions meant to target sensory structures (STARS) have been shown to be effective at restoring deficits associated with chronic ankle instability (CAI). Clinicians often use multiple treatment modalities in patients with CAI. However, evidence for combined intervention effectiveness in CAI patients remains limited.


To determine if augmenting a balance-training protocol with STARS (BTS) results in greater improvements than balance training (BT) alone in those with CAI.


Randomized-controlled trial.


Research laboratory.


24 CAI participants (age 21.3 ± 2.0 y; height 169.8 ± 12.9 cm; mass 72.5 ± 22.2 kg) were randomized into 2 groups: BT and BTS.


Participants completed a 4-week progression-based balance-training protocol consisting of 3 20-min sessions per week. The experimental group also received a 5-min set of STARS treatments consisting of calf stretching, plantar massage, ankle joint mobilizations, and ankle joint traction before each balance-training session.

Main Outcome Measures:

Outcomes included self-assessed disability, Star Excursion Balance Test reach distance, and time-to-boundary calculated from static balance trials. All outcomes were assessed before, and 24-hours and 1-week after protocol completion. Self-assessed disability was also captured 1-month after the intervention.


No significant group differences were identified (P > .10). Both groups demonstrated improvements in all outcome categories after the interventions (P < .10), many of which were retained at 1-week posttest (P < .10). Although 90% CIs include zero, effect sizes favor BTS. Similarly, only the BTS group exceeded the minimal detectable change for time-to-boundary outcomes.


While statistically no more effective, exceeding minimal detectable change scores and favorable effect sizes suggest that a 4-week progressive BTS program may be more effective at improving self-assessed disability and postural control in CAI patients than balance training in isolation.

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Kyeongtak Song, Kyle B. Kosik, Phillip A. Gribble, and Erik A. Wikstrom

Context: Quantifying early posttraumatic ankle osteoarthritis pathogenesis using compositional magnetic resonance (MR) imaging sequences is becoming more common. These MR sequences are often manually segmented to isolate the cartilage of interest before cartilage compositional values (eg, T1ρ or T2) are quantified. However, limited information is available regarding the reliability and reproducibility of manual segmentation for the entire talar dome. Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine the intraobserver and interobserver reliability of manually segmenting T1ρ MR sequences of the entire talar dome and 4 subregions of interest. Design: Descriptive observational study. Setting: Laboratory. Patients or Other Participants: Ten uninjured healthy individuals (4M and 6F: 21.40 [3.03] y, 170.00 [7.93] cm, 71.03 [14.97] kg) participated. Intervention: None. Main Outcome Measures: Two investigators manually segmented 10 T1ρ ankle MR sequences using ITK-SNAP software to calculate T1ρ mean relaxation times and cartilage volumes. Each observer repeated the segmentation twice, with segmentations separated by 1 month. Intraobserver and interobserver reliability was determined using intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) with 95% confidence intervals and root mean square coefficient of variations (RMSCVs). Results: For T1ρ relaxation time, intraobserver (ICC = .994–.997, RMSCV = 1.31%–1.51%) and interobserver reliability (ICC = .990, RMSCV = 2.36%) was excellent for the overall talar dome. Excellent intraobserver (ICC = .975–.980, RMSCV = 3.88%–4.59%) and excellent interobserver reliability (ICC = .970, RMSCV = 5.13%) was noted for overall talar cartilage volume. Conclusions: The results demonstrate that manual segmentation of the entire talar dome from a T1ρ MR is reliable and repeatable.

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Erik A. Wikstrom, Kyeongtak Song, Kimmery Migel, and Chris J. Hass

Aberrant loading is a mechanism by which individuals with chronic ankle instability (CAI) may negatively impact cartilage health and therefore long-term health outcomes. We aimed to quantify walking vertical ground reaction force (vGRF) component differences between those with and without CAI. Participants (n = 36) walked barefoot overground at a self-selected comfortable pace. Normalized peak vGRF, time to peak vGRF, and normalized loading rate were calculated. Higher normalized loading rates (CAI: 5.69 ± 0.62 N/BW/s; controls: 5.30 ± 0.44 N/BW/s, p = .034) and less time to peak vGRF (CAI: 1.48 ± 0.18 s; controls: 1.62 ± 0.16 s, p = .018) were observed in those with CAI. In conclusion, those with CAI demonstrate a higher normalized loading rate and less time to peak vGRF compared to controls.

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Lilly H. VanDeMark, Christina B. Vander Vegt, Cassie B. Ford, Jason P. Mihalik, and Erik A. Wikstrom

Context: Prophylactic and rehabilitative balance training is needed to maximize postural control and develop appropriate sensory organization strategies. Partially occluding vision during functional exercise may promote appropriate sensory organization strategies, but little is known about the influence of partially occluded vision on postural control in those with and without a history of musculoskeletal injury. Objective: To determine the effect of increasing levels of visual occlusion on postural control in a heterogeneous sample of those with and without chronic ankle instability (CAI). The secondary objective was to explore postural control responses to increasing levels of visual occlusion among those with unilateral and bilateral CAI relative to uninjured controls. Design: Cross-sectional. Setting: Sports medicine research laboratory. Patients or Other Participants: Twenty-five participants with unilateral CAI, 10 with bilateral CAI, and 16 participants with no history of lower extremity injury. Main Outcome Measures: All participants completed four 3-minute postural control assessments in double-limb stance under the following 4 visual conditions: (1) eyes open, (2) low occlusion, (3) high occlusion, and (4) eyes closed. Low- and high-occlusion conditions were produced using stroboscopic eyewear. Postural control outcomes included time-to-boundary minima means in the anteroposterior (TTB-AP) and mediolateral directions (TTB-ML). Repeated-measures analysis of variances tested the effects of visual condition on TTB-AP and TTB-ML. Results: Postural control under the eyes-open condition was significantly better (ie, higher) than the limited visual occlusion and eyes-closed conditions (P < .001) for TTB-AP and TTB-ML. For TTB-AP only, partially occluded vision resulted in better postural control than the eyes-closed condition (P ≤ .003). Conclusions: Partial and complete visual occlusion impaired postural control during dual-limb stance in a heterogeneous sample of those with and without CAI. Stroboscopic eyewear appears to induce postural control impairments to the same extent as complete visual occlusion in the mediolateral direction.