Influence of Passive Joint Stiffness on Proprioceptive Acuity in Individuals With Functional Instability of the Ankle

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Abstract

STUDY DESIGN:

Controlled laboratory study, cross-sectional.

BACKGROUND:

Deficits in ankle proprioceptive acuity have been reported in persons with functional instability of the ankle. Passive stiffness has been proposed as a possible mechanism underlying proprioceptive acuity.

OBJECTIVE:

To compare proprioceptive acuity and passive ankle stiffness in persons with and without functional ankle instability, and to assess the influence of passive joint stiffness on proprioceptive acuity in persons with functional ankle instability.

METHODS:

A sample of 18 subjects with and 18 without complaints of functional ankle instability following lateral ankle sprain participated. An isokinetic dynamometer was used to compare motion perception threshold, passive position sense, and passive ankle stiffness between groups. To evaluate the influence of passive stiffness on proprioceptive acuity, individuals in the lateral functional ankle instability group were divided into 2 subgroups: “high” and “low” passive ankle stiffness.

RESULTS:

The functional ankle instability group exhibited increased motion perception threshold when compared with the corresponding limb of the control group. Between-group differences were not found for passive position sense and passive ankle stiffness. Those in the functional ankle instability group with higher passive ankle stiffness had smaller motion perception thresholds than those with lower passive ankle stiffness.

CONCLUSION:

Unlike motion perception threshold, passive position sense is not affected by the presence of functional ankle instability. Passive ankle stiffness appears to influence proprioceptive acuity in persons with functional ankle instability.

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