Ankle Sprain Treatment (Care of the Young Athlete)
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Acute ankle and foot injuries are common in
athletes and other active young people. Sprains account for the greatest number
of acute injuries.
The following is information from the American
Academy of Pediatrics summarizing the treatment phases of rehabilitation for
Phases of rehabilitation for ankle sprain
||Phase I treatment involves resting and protecting the ankle to
permit healing, to prevent further injury, and to control pain
(brace, wrap, splint, and/or crutches)
(ice, compression, elevation)
Early weight bearing
||Phase II treatment begins once pain and swelling have subsided
to the point where the athlete can comfortably bear weight and
walk from place to place.
and joint range of motion.
(with emphasis on peroneals and calf— see
"Peroneal strengthening exercise" and
"Calf strengthening exercise").
aerobic training; maintain general fitness.
||Phase III treatment focuses on restoring ankle proprioception
(balance and position awareness) as well as agility and
||In Phase IV treatment, athletes make the transition back to
their sport through what is known as a functional progression.
For running sports, athletes may progress from jogging or
running straight ahead on a flat surface to sprinting.
progression (jogging, running, sprinting, cutting,
jumping; sport-specific skills)
||In Phase V, the athlete has completed the functional program and
should be ready to return to practice.
Peroneal strengthening exercise
Exercises that use elastic tubing can help
restore strength to the muscles of the leg and calf.
Attach elastic to secure object.
Loop tubing around left
Pull the tubing to the left with
your forefoot while keeping the rest of your foot in place.
Repeat steps 1 through 3 with right
forefoot pulling the tubing to the right.
Calf strengthening exercise
Calf strengthening can be performed by toe
raises, with or without added weight, and toe raises on the edge of a
Stand with balls of feet on a step.
Hold onto a handrail to keep you steady.
Keep your knees slightly bent and
gently lower your heels.
Then slowly raise your heels by
pushing on the balls of your feet.
Repeat steps 1 through 3.
Exercises to restore proprioception are
performed on a balance board, a wobble board, or a mini trampoline, or
simply by standing on one leg while playing catch with a ball or doing some
other distracting activity.
Because injuries and recovery rates are
different for every athlete, it is difficult to estimate an exact date or time
when return to sports will be safe. However, by plotting the phases of
rehabilitation (see graph), doctors can discuss with athletes the necessary
steps for recovery and will be able to measure an athlete's progress
against this standard.
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