Predicting Functional Recovery after Acute Ankle Sprain

Sean R. O'Connor, Chris M. Bleakley, Mark A. Tully, Suzanne M. McDonough

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27 Citations (Scopus)
284 Downloads (Pure)


INTRODUCTION:Ankle sprains are among the most common acute musculoskeletal conditions presenting to primary care. Their clinical course is variable but there are limited recommendations on prognostic factors. Our primary aim was to identify clinical predictors of short and medium term functional recovery after ankle sprain.
METHODS:A secondary analysis of data from adult participants (N = 85) with an acute ankle sprain, enrolled in a randomized controlled trial was undertaken. The predictive value of variables (age, BMI, gender, injury mechanism, previous injury, weight-bearing status, medial joint line pain, pain during weight-bearing dorsiflexion and lateral hop test) recorded at baseline and at 4 weeks post injury were investigated for their prognostic ability. Recovery was determined from measures of subjective ankle function at short (4 weeks) and medium term (4 months) follow ups. Multivariate stepwise linear regression analyses were undertaken to evaluate the association between the aforementioned variables and functional recovery.
RESULTS:Greater age, greater injury grade and weight-bearing status at baseline were associated with lower function at 4 weeks post injury (p<0.01; adjusted R square=0.34). Greater age, weight-bearing status at baseline and non-inversion injury mechanisms were associated with lower function at 4 months (p<0.01; adjusted R square=0.20). Pain on medial palpation and pain on dorsiflexion at 4 weeks were the most valuable prognostic indicators of function at 4 months (p< 0.01; adjusted R square=0.49).
CONCLUSION:The results of the present study provide further evidence that ankle sprains have a variable clinical course. Age, injury grade, mechanism and weight-bearing status at baseline provide some prognostic information for short and medium term recovery. Clinical assessment variables at 4 weeks were the strongest predictors of recovery, explaining 50% of the variance in ankle function at 4 months. Further prospective research is required to highlight the factors that best inform the expected convalescent period, and risk of recurrence.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere72124
Number of pages5
JournalPloS one
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 05 Aug 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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