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Ankle Braces May Protect Girl Volleyball Players

Device most effective for those who haven't had previous sprain, study says

FRIDAY, May 7 (HealthDay News) -- Ankle braces help prevent ankle injuries in female high school volleyball players, a new study shows.

It included 957 high school varsity volleyball players (59.3 percent female, 40.7 percent male) who wore five different types of ankle braces (including rigid, semi-rigid and non-rigid) for an entire season and 42 who didn't wear ankle braces.

During the season, inversion ankle sprains were suffered by 9.3 percent of players with ankle braces and 9.5 percent of unbraced players. However, use of the braces was associated with a significant decrease in ankle sprains among players who had not suffered a previous ankle sprain.

The study also found that females who used a non-rigid brace had a significant increase in ankle sprains compared to males who wore a non-rigid brace. The increase was even more significant among females who wore a non-rigid brace compared to females who wore a semi-rigid or rigid brace.

This increased risk "may be due to the gender difference of women having greater ligament laxity than men and thus, a more rigid external support provided more protection," Dr. Carol Frey, a member of the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society, and colleagues said in a news release.

The study appeared in the April issue of the journal Foot and Ankle International.

"Prophylactic ankle brace use is recommended for female volleyball players, especially those who have not had a previous sprain. Based on our data, however, we could not strongly recommend prophylactic ankle brace use for male high school volleyball players," the researchers concluded.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about ankle sprains.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society, news release, April 2010

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