To Tape or To Brace the Ankle Joint

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Introduction

One of the philosophical decisions made by novice athletic trainers is determining which is better: taping or bracing the ankle joint. There are several factors to consider including efficiency, stability, injury prevention and cost effectiveness. Ankle sprains are one of the most common athletic injuries with most occurring to the lateral ligaments of the ankle.1, 2,3,4,5 In American Football ankle sprains comprise approximately 10-15% of all injuries whereas 70% of college basketball players have had at least one ankle sprain. Furthermore ankle injuries are common in soccer, field hockey and other sports.3 To determine between taping an ankle or using a brace, effectiveness, efficiency, and cost effect are taken into consideration.
When researchers compare taping and bracing there are several considerations which must be addressed. The researcher has to look at the type of tape, how the tape is applied, and whether there are extra measures taken such at spatting along with a normal ankle tape job.5 The researcher also has to look at the type of brace, how the brace is applied, who applies the brace, and how long the brace will last in an active sport season.5
Researchers have studied how to treat an ankle sprain, but there are not as many that have looked at whether using tape or using a brace is more effective in preventing injury.1, 3 Those who focus on prevention take into account proprioception, patient satisfaction, cost-benefit, and kinematics.2, 3, 4, 5 Evaluating various evidence provided in research, athletic trainers can decide which intervention is best suited for their practice.
Taping
Studies have shown taping an ankle can limit range of motion if done correctly.1, 5 Another study done by Reut...

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...rown C. Does Wearing a Prophylactic Ankle Brace During Drop Landings Affect Lower Extremity Kinematics and Ground Reaction Forces?. Journal Of Applied Biomechanics [serial online]. April 2013;29(2):205-213. Available from: SPORTDiscus with Full Text, Ipswich, MA. Accessed January 26, 2014.

5. The effect of taping versus semi-rigid bracing on patient outcome and satisfaction in ankle sprains: a prospective, randomized controlled trial. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders [serial online]. January 2012;13(1):81-87. Available from: Academic Search Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed March 23, 2014.

6. REUTER G, DAHL A, SENCHINA D. Ankle Spatting Compared to Bracing or Taping during Maximal- Effort Sprint Drills. International Journal Of Exercise Science [serial online]. January 2011;4(1):305-320. Available from: SPORTDiscus with Full Text, Ipswich, MA. Accessed January 26, 2014.

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