Braced for Impact: Reducing Military Paratroopers' Ankle Sprains Using Outside-the-Boot Braces

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BackgroundAnkle injuries account for 30 to 60% of all parachuting injuries. This study was designed to determine if outside-the-boot ankle braces could reduce ankle sprains during Army paratrooper training.MethodsThe randomized trial involved 777 volunteers from the U.S. Army Airborne School, Fort Benning, Ga. Of this group, 745 completed all study requirements (369 brace-wearers and 376 non-brace-wearers). Each volunteer made five parachute jumps, for a total of 3,674 jumps.ResultsThe incidence of inversion ankle sprains was 1.9% in non-brace-wearers and 0.3% in brace-wearers (risk ratio, 6.9; p = 0.04). Other injuries appeared unaffected by the brace. Overall, 5.3% of the non-brace group and 4.6% of the brace group experienced at least one injury. The risk ratio for injured individuals was 1.2:1 (non-brace to brace groups; p = 0.65).ConclusionInversion ankle sprains during parachute training can be significantly reduced by using an outside-the-boot ankle brace, with no increase in risk for other injuries.

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