Background: Within athletics and the military, ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries with the potential for long-term functional deficits. Incidence rates for ankle sprains within the military are one of the leading causes of limited duty days, especially during basic combat training, parachute training exercises, and in cadet populations. In 2008, the Department of Defense U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine report recommended that military personnel should wear semirigid ankle braces during parachuting, basketball, soccer, and other similar high-risk activities to reduce ankle sprain injuries. This recommendation was developed using a majority of athletic references with limited data stemming from military works. Of these included military studies, none presented data on ankle braces and their effects on performance, especially in military-specific environments. The purpose of this review was to provide an up-to-date account on the use of ankle braces in military populations and effects on performance measures. Methods: A comprehensive online systematic review of the literature was conducted to delineate the current use of ankle braces in the military and how they specifically affect functional performance measures. The scope of this study eliminated military studies that were not prospective in nature or did not incorporate subjects wearing military equipment (i.e., combat boots). Findings: It was determined that little progress has been made in validating the use of semirigid ankle braces in military populations other than in instances such as parachuting and only in reducing the number ankle injuries. To date, only one study has looked specifically at the use of ankle braces and its effects on performance measures in a military sample. Discussion: With the high incidence rate and increased risk for subsequent reinjury, ankle sprains are an economic and force readiness burden to the U.S. Armed Forces. This study was conducted to determine whether additional literature was available for the use of ankle braces on performance measures in the military. It was determined that there is a scarcity of information currently available on the use of ankle braces in military populations, outside of parachuting activities. The Department of Defense recommendation of using semirigid ankle braces may ultimately be beneficial to a multitude of high-risk military activities, but further research must be conducted to determine possible detrimental performance effects.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health