Functional rehabilitation is often employed for ankle instability, but there is little evidence to support its efficacy, especially in those with chronic ankle instability (CAI).
To review studies using both functional rehabilitation interventions and functional measurements to establish the effectiveness of functional rehabilitation for both postural control and self-reported outcomes in those with CAI.
The databases of Medline, SPORTDiscus, and PubMed were searched between the years 1988 and 2008. Inclusion criteria required articles to have used a clinical research trial involving at least 1 functional rehabilitation intervention, have at least 1 outcome measure of function and/or functional performance, and to have used at least 1 group of subjects who reported either repeated lateral ankle sprains or episodes of “giving way.” The term functional was operationally defined as dynamic, closed-kinetic-chain activity other than quiet standing.
Six articles met the inclusion criteria. The articles reviewed used multiple functional means for assessment and training, with a wobble board or similar device being the most common. Despite effect sizes being inconsistent for measures of dynamic postural control, all interventions resulted in improvements. Significant improvements and strong effect sizes were demonstrated for self-reported outcomes.
The reviewed studies using functional rehabilitation interventions and functional assessment tools were associated with improved ankle stability for both postural control and self-reported function, but more studies may be needed with more consistent effect sizes and confidence intervals to make a definitive conclusion.