Systematic review| Volume 100, ISSUE 7, P1367-1375, July 2019

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Rehabilitation Exercises Reduce Reinjury Post Ankle Sprain, But the Content and Parameters of an Optimal Exercise Program Have Yet to Be Established: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Published:October 26, 2018DOI:



      To determine if exercise-based rehabilitation reduces reinjury following acute ankle sprain. Our secondary objective was to assess if rehabilitation efficacy varies according to exercise content and training volume.

      Data Sources

      The following electronic databases were searched: EMBASE, MEDLINE, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro).

      Study Selection

      Randomized controlled trials investigating the effect of exercise-based rehabilitation programs on reinjury and patient-reported outcomes (perceived instability, function, pain) in people with an acute ankle sprain. No restrictions were made on the exercise type, duration, or frequency. Exercise-based programs could have been administered in isolation or as an adjunct to usual care. Comparisons were made to usual care consisting of 1 or all components of PRICE (protection, rest, ice, compression, elevation).

      Data Extraction

      Effect sizes with 95% CIs were calculated in the form of mean differences for continuous outcomes and odds ratios (ORs) for dichotomous outcomes. Pooled effects were calculated for reinjury prevalence with meta-analysis undertaken using RevMan software.

      Data Synthesis

      Seven trials (n=1417) were included (median PEDro score, 8/10). Pooled data found trends toward a reduction in reinjury in favor of the exercise-based rehabilitation compared with usual care at 3-6 months (OR, 0.87; 95% CI, 0.48-1.58) with significant reductions reported at 7-12 months (OR, 0.53; 95% CI, 0.38-0.73). Sensitivity analysis based on pooled reinjury data from 2 high quality studies (n=629) also found effects in favor of exercise-based rehabilitation at 12 months (OR, 0.60; 95% CI, 0.49-0.89). Training volume differed substantially across rehabilitation programs with total rehabilitation time ranging from 3.5-21 hours. The majority of rehabilitation programs focused primarily on postural balance or strength training.


      Exercise-based rehabilitation reduces the risk of reinjury following acute ankle sprain when compared with usual care alone. There is no consensus on optimal exercise content and training volume in this field. Future research must explicitly report all details of administered exercise-based rehabilitation programs.


      List of abbreviations:

      MD (mean difference), NNT (number needed to treat), OR (odds ratio), PEDro (Physiotherapy Evidence Database), RR (relative risk)
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