Physical Activity Levels in College Students With Chronic Ankle Instability
Hubbard-Turner T & Turner TJ. J Athl Train. 2015; 50(7): 742-747.
Take Home Message: College students with chronic ankle instability have lower activity levels and more symptoms than healthy students. Activity levels appear to be related to the amount of ankle laxity.
Ankle sprains, one of the most common orthopedic injuries, can cause chronic ankle instability (CAI), which can result in long-term pain, instability, and potentially decreased quality of life. Individuals with CAI report lower function and more symptoms, but it is unknown if these findings translate into functional differences. The authors of this study compared total weekly steps between 40 college students with CAI and healthy control students. The authors also tested whether physical activity level (steps) was associated with ankle laxity. Students completed the Foot and Ankle Ability Measure survey and the International Physical Activity Questionnaire to assess physical function and types/intensity of activity levels, respectively. Ankle laxity in anterior-posterior and inversion-eversion was assessed by the investigators through use of an ankle arthrometer. Students were given pedometers to record their daily step count in logs over the course of 1 week. CAI participants had overall lower activity levels based on lower step counts, moderate activity level time, vigorous activity level time, and metabolic equivalents in comparison to healthy controls. There were negative correlations between ankle laxity measures and total daily step count, which means that as laxity increases students tend to be less active.
This study is important because it is one of the first studies to demonstrate that individuals with CAI are less physically active than healthy controls. The lower activity levels may be related to objective laxity or subjective symptoms that the CAI participants are experiencing. It would be interesting to see if treatments that improve symptoms among patients with CAI also result in increases in activity levels. Research on intervention programs or long-term changes after ankle sprains would provide valuable information about this. The authors of this study followed physically active college participants over the course of 1 week, but it may be interesting to follow students over longer time periods or to follow college-aged athletes during a competitive season. As participants recover from an ankle sprain, a thorough rehabilitation program is key to avoiding long-term complications. As clinicians return to physical activity/function should not be our end goal. We should also focus on improving a patient’s perceived function and symptoms as well as patient education in efforts to maintain long-term healthy lifestyles.
Questions for Discussion: Are there any interventions or training programs that you clinically use to improve subjective pain or function after an ankle sprain?
Written by: Nicole Cattano
Reviewed by: Jeffrey Driban
Related Posts:Hubbard-Turner, T., & Turner, M. (2015). Physical Activity Levels in College Students With Chronic Ankle Instability Journal of Athletic Training DOI: 10.4085/1062-6050-50.3.05