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The role of ankle bracing for prevention of ankle sprain injuries.

Lateral ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries incurred in recreational and competitive athletics. These injuries have a significant impact in terms of cost, athletic participation, and activities of daily living. Prophylactic ankle braces are often used to reduce the risk of injury recurrence when individuals return to athletic participation. The purpose of this clinical commentary is to review the literature and provide our own experience relative to the use of prophylactic ankle bracing. Relatively high incidence rates of ankle sprain injury have been reported for basketball and soccer athletes, military trainees, and individuals with a previous history of ankle sprain injury. Semirigid and laced ankle braces have significantly reduced the incidence of initial and recurrent ankle sprain injuries in athletic and military samples. With few exceptions, these braces do not appear to affect functional performance adversely. The prophylactic use of semirigid ankle braces appears warranted to reduce the incidence of initial and, in particular, recurrent ankle sprain injuries for individuals who participate in activities that have the highest risk for these injuries. Additional research is needed to evaluate the many new braces that are available and in use and their influence on the incidence of ankle sprain injury and functional performance.

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