Ankle braces are highly effective in preventing volleyball sprains, at least among female collegiate players. The finding is the result of research conducted at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and published in a recent issue of the American Journal of Sports Medicine.
Researchers conducting the study reviewed injury data collected before and after the women’s collegiate volleyball team of the University of Pennsylvania mandated the use of padded ankle braces for its players. Following the mandate, just one ankle injury occurred in the course of seven seasons. Authors of the study report that ankle injuries are the most common type of injury among female volleyball players, accounting for 36% of all injuries.
According to researchers, 797 total ankle injuries occurred among female players during 811,710 practices or games between the years of 1988 and 2005, for an incidence of .98 injuries for every 1,000 exposures. Among Penn players during those seven seasons there was a single ankle injury. During that length of time, the team played 13,500 games, for an injury incidence rate of only .07 per 1,000 exposures. The researchers also note that prior to beginning their collegiate volleyball careers, fully half of the Penn players suffered ankle injuries.
Authors of the study urge the use of protective braces among volleyball players and suggest that additional research is needed to determine which styles of ankle brace are most effective at reducing injury rates, and how those braces affect players’ performance.
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