The effect of ankle taping or bracing on proprioception in functional ankle instability: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Jacqueline Raymond, Leslie L Nicholson, Claire E Hiller, Kathryn M Refshauge
Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport 2012, 15 (5): 386-92

OBJECTIVES: To determine if wearing an ankle brace or taping the ankle, compared to no brace or tape, improves proprioceptive acuity in people with a history of ankle sprain or functional ankle instability.

DESIGN: Systematic review and meta-analysis.

METHODS: Studies using controlled, cross-over designs whereby participants who had sprained their ankle at least once or had functional ankle instability, underwent some form of proprioceptive sensation testing with and without ankle brace or tape, were included. Proprioceptive acuity was reported for the ankle tape/brace condition and the condition where no tape or brace was worn. Meta-analysis was employed to compare proprioceptive acuity with and without ankle tape/brace.

RESULTS: Eight studies were included in the review. Studies measured either sense of movement or sense of joint position. The mean differences in 19 of 32 comparisons were not significant. Of the remaining mean differences, 10 were positive, indicating better proprioceptive acuity in the taped/braced condition and 3 were negative, indicating poorer proprioceptive acuity. Overall, there was no significant effect with ankle tape/brace compared to the no tape/brace condition (mean difference: 0.08°, 95% CI: -0.39 to 0.55). This finding was consistent when the two aspects of proprioception (sense of movement or joint position) were considered separately.

CONCLUSIONS: The pooled evidence suggests that using an ankle brace or ankle tape has no effect on proprioceptive acuity in participants with recurrent ankle sprain or who have functional ankle instability.

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