Ankle bracing and its effects on dynamic balance and functional performance measures in a Reserve Officers' Training Corp

Open Access
Newman, Thomas Michael
Graduate Program:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
July 06, 2017
Committee Members:
  • William E Buckley, Dissertation Advisor
  • William E Buckley, Committee Chair
  • Sayers John Miller III, Committee Member
  • Wayne Joseph Sebastianelli, Committee Member
  • Peter Lawrence Bordi Jr., Outside Member
  • Giampietro Luciano Vairo, Committee Member
  • Theodore Croy, Special Member
  • Military Medicine
  • Prophylactic Bracing
  • Injury
  • Prevention
  • Bracing
  • Lower Extremity
Musculoskeletal injuries sustained during physical training and sports-related activities are the greatest threat to military force readiness. Injuries sustained during physical training are one of the principal reasons for the inability of service men and women to be deployed and for the almost 25 million limited duty days accrued annually. Ankle sprains have been shown to be a leading cause for military disability and are a long-term health care issue, potentially leading to a medical discharge. Military parachuting studies have demonstrated the benefits of using an outside-the-boot ankle brace to reduce the risk for sustaining an ankle injury, but the use of ankle bracing on other performance measures in the military have not been established. The first chapter of this dissertation focused on reviewing existing literature that investigated the effects of ankle bracing on functional performance measures in civilian populations. It was concluded in the literature that ankle braces, used in healthy physically active populations, have little statistical impact on balance and functional performance measures. The second chapter of this dissertation focused on reviewing how ankle braces effect performance measures in military specific populations. At this point, only one study has specifically evaluated how these devices affect performance measures, and the remaining studies focused only on the reduction of ankle injuries. Due to the lack of literature available, the purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of ankle braces on dynamic balance and three functional performance measures in a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. This randomized crossover study indicated significant results in which ankle braces do create negative effects for balance reach distances, max jump height, max jump distance, and obstacle course completion time. This is the first study to evaluate ankle braces in a military sample while wearing battle dress uniform, combat boots, and a loaded rucksack.