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  1. Lateral ankle sprains are a common musculoskeletal injury. The anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL) is the primary ligament involved and is assessed via an anterior drawer test. Clinically assessing joint laxity has been a subjective task. Evaluating both magnitude of translation and quality of the endfeel has presented challenges. Until recently, a reliable and valid arthrometer to test joints other than the knee has not been available. The Mobil-Aider arthrometer has undergone bench testing for validity, reliability testing in healthy persons, and most recently the testing of participants for pathology. A summary of these studies is available in the Online Supplement . The goal of this study was to determine the ability of the arthrometer to objectively identify the anterior translation of the ankle and the relationship to the clinical diagnosis. The participant was evaluated by a physician and magnitude of ankle sprain was determined. An arthrometer was used to perform an anterior drawer test (uninjured before injured, 3 measures each) in the prone position. Both clinicians were blinded to the data of the other. There were 30 participants, 10 per group (uninjured, 1° sprain, 2° sprain). Mann-Whitney U testing found significant differences between the control and grade 1 ankle sprain groups ( P < .001), the control and grade 2 ankle sprain groups ( P < .001), and the grade 1 and grade 2 ankle sprain groups ( P = .004). There was ± 0.31 mm difference in anterior translation between healthy ankles, whereas there was 1.11 mm and 2.16 mm difference between ankles in grade 1 and grade 2 sprains, respectively. The anterior drawer test is the gold standard for clinical ATFL testing, but the subjective nature of this test poses challenges. Technology is available to assess ankle joint laxity and enhance the objectivity of patient assessment and throughout the recovery process. An arthrometer is a valuable tool in quantifying orthopaedic examination.

     
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  2. Background

    Lateral ankle sprains are a common musculoskeletal injury across a variety of activities. Researchers have sought to identify a method to objectively assess joint laxity with a device that is simple to use and affordable.

    Aim

    The purpose of this study was to assess the use of an ankle arthrometer on individuals with ankle sprains.

    Methods

    The participant was evaluated by the physician and the degree of ankle sprain was identified. In the prone position, the arthrometer was used to perform an anterior drawer test (uninjured before injured, 3 measures each). Both clinicians were blinded to the data of the other.

    Results

    There were 30 participants, 10 in each group (uninjured, grade 1 sprain, grade 2 sprain). Mann-Whitney U testing found significant differences between the control and grade I ankle sprain groups (P < .001), the control and grade II ankle sprain groups (P < .001), and the grade I and grade II ankle sprain groups (P = .004). There was ±0.31-mm difference in anterior translation between healthy ankles, whereas there was 1.11- and 2.16-mm difference between ankles in grade 1 and grade 2 sprains, respectively.

    Clinical Application

    Despite the manual anterior drawer test being convenient, the subjectivity makes it unreliable. This study is consistent with prior literature about the difference in translation (millimeters) between the uninjured and injured ankles corresponding to the magnitude of ankle laxity. This study also contributes to the evolving evidence to support the relationship of a ratio of measures (injured/uninjured) as an objective measure of laxity. These comparisons to the individual’s healthy ankle mitigate the variability of the normative values. The use of an arthrometer to assess ankle joint laxity enhances the objectivity of patient assessment throughout the recovery process.

    Levels of Evidence:

    Level III

     
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