JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Prophylactic bracing decreases ankle injuries in collegiate female volleyball players.

BACKGROUND: Ankle injuries account for the highest percentage of injuries among female collegiate volleyball players. Since 1998, all female volleyball players at the authors' institution have worn bilateral double-upright padded ankle braces at all times.

PURPOSE: To review the authors' experience with this brace in preventing ankle injuries that result in a loss of play.

STUDY DESIGN: Case series; Level of evidence, 4.

METHODS: Injury data, preparticipation medical histories, and total exposure data were collected prospectively on all female volleyball players at the authors' institution from 1998 to 2005. Injuries and exposures were defined based on established National Collegiate Athletic Association Injury Surveillance System criteria. Injury rate was calculated as the number of injuries per 1000 exposures. The National Collegiate Athletic Association female volleyball injury data from 1998 to 2005 were used for comparison.

RESULTS: During the study period, there were a total of 13,500 exposures and 1 injury in our group yielding an injury rate of 0.07 per 1000 exposures. Nearly half of our athletes had a preparticipation history of ankle sprains, yet only 1 ankle injury occurred during all of our braced exposures.

CONCLUSION: There were 811 710 exposures and 797 injuries in the National Collegiate Athletic Association comparison group with an increased injury rate of 0.98 per 1000 exposures (P = .001). Prophylactic use of a double-upright ankle brace significantly reduced the ankle injury rate compared with that reported by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. From these data, it appears that the use of such a brace is an effective way to decrease the incidence of ankle injuries in this active but vulnerable group of athletes.

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