Ulster Research Aims To Reduce Ankle Injuries

The study, which will be carried out in partnership with the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, will look at different methods of applying ice to the injured ankle, as well as offering early physiotherapy to help aid recovery and minimise re-injury.

Dr Chris Bleakley, from the University’s Health and Rehabilitation Sciences Research Institute says the study is particularly important due to the high incidence of recurring injuries.

“Ankle sprains are one of the most common sports injuries. They account for more than 5% of all admissions to Accident and Emergency (A&E) Departments. Many people are beginning to play team sports again after the summer break, and the number of ankle sprains is often highest at this time of the year.

“Treating ankle sprains is associated with significant costs, not only in terms of direct costs to the National Health Service, but also due to people often having to take time off work after such injuries.

“In addition, ankle sprains can often reoccur after a first injury. This can lead to long-term problems including pain, muscle weakness and can permanently prevent people participating in the sporting and leisure activities which they enjoy. Previous research has shown that early treatment is important in order to improve healing, speed up recovery time and prevent long-term problems developing.

“Ice is commonly used by sports people to reduce pain and swelling after injury. We are carrying out a randomised, controlled trial, which will compare two different methods of applying ice to the injured ankle. The main aim of the study is to find out which method is most effective at minimising pain and swelling, whilst facilitating early mobilisation and strengthening.

“All patients between 16-65 years of age who present to the Accident and Emergency Department of the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, with a recent ankle sprain can choose to take part in the study. In addition to the normal treatment, they will also get early physiotherapy to help them recover.”

This study is being carried out in collaboration with the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust. Funding has been partly provided by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) through the Physiotherapy Research Foundation (PRF).

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