BACKGROUND:
Ankle sprain is the most common sports-related injury with a high rate of recurrence and associated costs. Recent studies have emphasised the effectiveness of both neuromuscular training and bracing for the secondary prevention of ankle sprains.

AIM:
To evaluate the effectiveness of combined bracing and neuromuscular training, or bracing alone, against the use of neuromuscular training on recurrences of ankle sprain after usual care.

METHODS:
384 athletes, aged 18-70, who had sustained a lateral ankle sprain, were included (training group n=120; brace group n=126; combi group n=138). The training group received an 8-week home-based neuromuscular training programme, the brace group received a semirigid ankle brace to be worn during all sports activities for 12 months, and the combi group received both the training programme, as well as the ankle brace, to be worn during all sports activities for 8 weeks. The main outcome measure was self-reported recurrence of the ankle sprain.

RESULTS:
During the 1-year follow-up, 69 participants (20%) reported a recurrent ankle sprain: 29 (27%) in the training group, 17 (15%) in the brace group and 23 (19%) in the combi group. The relative risk for a recurrent ankle sprain in the brace group versus the training group was 0.53 (95% CI 0.29 to 0.97). No significant differences were found for time losses or costs due to ankle sprains between the intervention groups.

CONCLUSIONS:
Bracing was superior to neuromuscular training in reducing the incidence but not the severity of self-reported recurrent ankle sprains after usual care.



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