Your player goes down with an ankle injury during the game. You re-tape the ankle but he still has too much weight bearing pain to continue. You try a lace-up but that doesn’t help. Game over for him...or is it?
When an ankle injury occurs during competition all eyes turn to the athletic trainer to assess the severity of the injury and report on when they can safely get the player back in the game. Athletic trainers are expected to act quickly and efficiently under pressure, whether it be from the coach or on a national stage such as professional sporting event, which is why it’s important to correctly diagnose and remedy in-game ankle injuries as they happen.
As a Certified Athletic Trainer I have been specializing in ankle injury recovery and prevention for over 35 years. That being said, I wanted to share with you my steps for dealing with an in-game ankle injury quickly and efficiently:
- Injury Evaluation – Determine the extent of the injury to evaluate whether or not the athlete can return to competition. If it is determined that that athlete can return to competition if the ankle is sufficiently stabilized proceed to steps 2 and 3.
- Stabilize the Ankle – Using whatever method you or the athlete are most comfortable with, stabilize their ankle joint so that they cannot injure themselves further. It is important to note that if they are still feeling pain in the ankle when walking/moving around, then a different treatment technique should be used, such as an ankle brace, or they should not re-enter the game.
- Relieve Weight Bearing Pain – If the athlete continues to suffer from weight bearing pain and still needs to re-enter the game, they can always reduce that weight bearing pain by using an ankle brace that “unloads” or “offloads” the ankle. Taping, lace-ups, or any brace with a soft bottom cannot unload the ankle – instead they will need to use a semi-rigid bottom, hinged-cuff ankle brace. Not all semi-rigid, hinged-cuff braces are the same so it is important to research whether they can reduce weight bearing pain as well as provide joint immobility.
If you work with athletes in any sports that have a high prevalence of ankle injuries (basketball, football, volleyball, soccer, etc) it is important to know the in’s and out’s of ankle unloading/offloading and how to treat these acute ankle injuries as they happen. The hinged-cuff ankle brace design and method of unloading weight bearing pain has been used by numerous athletes since it’s introduction in early 2000 and is the most evolved ankle brace on the market for acute ankle injury treatment and rehabilitation.
If you'd like to learn more about our hinged-cuff ankle brace ideal for in-game injuries and ankle injury treatment and rehabilition, check out our Ultra CTS® Custom Treatment System. If you're an athletic trainer that works with athletes with a high incidence of ankle injuries and have more questions about unloading/offloading the ankle to assist your athletes – send us an email and we would be happy to help.
Written by Rick Peters
Rick Peters is a Certified Athletic Trainer who has been advancing ankle bracing technology for three decades. Peters patented his first ankle brace in 1985, revolutionizing the industry by adding a hinge to traditional stirrup braces for greater mobility. In 1989 he was a founder and became President of Active Ankle Systems. In 1998 he co-founded Ultra Athlete LLC to develop the next generation of ankle bracing technology. Peters has 18 ankle brace patents and is considered an authority on ankle bracing technology worldwide.