Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Mark Romanick


Ankle Injuries -- therapy; Braces; Sprains and Strains; Proprioception


External ankle supports, such as athletic tape and braces, used prophylactically and postinjury, have enabled athletes to participate, when their absence would have either limited participation or possibly allowed an injury. These supports offer an extrinsic mechanical source of support for the ankle. The ankle, however, is also dependent on the proprioception system, including visual input, to maintain balance through motor involvement of regional ankle musculature. It would appear that the addition of external support would enhance the overall integrity of the ankle; however, does that support exert an influence, positive or negative, on the proprioception system at the joint? The purpose of this study was to determine the effect external support on the proprioception system via balance assessment and to determine if that effect is different when comparing athletic tape to an ankle brace.

Thirty-three healthy male and female subjects (mean age 24.3 years) participated. The Balance Master 8.2, a computerized balance assessment device, was used to test and compare the effects of bracing, taping, and control on the ankle while performing the Unilateral Stance test with eyes open and closed, and the Step/Quick Turn test. Each subject randomly selected a face-down card to determine which ankle would be tested, which test they would begin with, and the order of control, tape, and a brace.

There was a statistically significant difference in the Unilateral Stance with eyes closed test. There was no statistical difference between the supported conditions; however, significance was demonstrated when unsupported and supported were compared, with increased postural sway exhibited in supported conditions. There were no other statistically significant differences among the other tests and conditions.

These results support previous findings in which external suppOli coincided with increased postural sway. Our study also showed that no difference in postural sway occurred between different forms of support, whether they involved an extensive contact area such as athletic tape or reduced contact area such as a low profile brace. These findings suggest that the proprioceptive system is less involved in maintaining balance when an external ankle support is applied.