Weight-bearing immobilization and early exercise treatment following a grade II lateral ankle sprain

Ward Mylo Glasoe, Mary K. Allen, Bruce F. Awtry, H. John Yack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Study Design: Case study. Objectives: To describe a protocol used in the rehabilitation of a grade II lateral ankle sprain, emphasizing brief immobilization with a removable boot, weight bearing as tolerated, and progression of early exercise. Background: The optimum conservative treatment of severe grade II ankle sprains remains undefined. Short-term benefits of early mobilization have won favor over immobilization by casting; however, pain and ankle joint instability often linger. The timing of weight bearing as a variable that influences recovery has largely been ignored when either treatment is considered. Methods and Measures: The patient was a 17-year-old girl who had sustained a left ankle inversion sprain while playing high school basketball. The sprained ankle was placed in an immobilizer boot for 1 week, and weight bearing was encouraged. She received instructions for active exercise and for resistive exercise with elastic tubing. Volumetric and active range of motion measurements and gait observation provided indicators of rehabilitation progress. A digital inclinometer was used to measure active range of motion in the sagittal plane. Vertical ground reaction forces recorded with an instrumented treadmill documented gait symmetry. Results: The patient responded well to the course of treatment, returning to full participation in basketball 2 weeks after the injury. The injured ankle had 29% (19°) less active range of motion than the nonimpaired ankle at the beginning of physical therapy. The injured ankle also displaced 50 mL more water compared with the nonimpaired ankle at the start of treatment. Four weeks after beginning treatment, the sprained ankle had 4 less active range of motion and displaced 5 mL more water compared with the nonimpaired ankle. As a college athlete, the patient has remained free of subjective complaints of ankle pain, instability, and swelling. Conclusion: Weight-bearing immobilization combined with early exercise provided safe and effective treatment for this patient, who suffered a grade II lateral ankle sprain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)394-399
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1999


  • Gait
  • Immobilizer boot
  • Rehabilitation

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