Categories: Abstracts, 2022, Podium

A ‘STRONG regime’ for safe ankles: a prospective study to validate an early mobilization programme after a lateral ankle ligament repair with suture tape augmentation

G. Gilsing, J. De Kort, W. Van der Weegen

1Topsuppport, Sports Medical Center, Eindhoven, Netherlands

Objective: To evaluate early mobilization with the ‘STRONG regime’ is safe after lateral ankle ligament repair with suture tape augmentation.

Background: The ESSKA-AFAS ankle instability group presented in 2016 evidence-based guidelines for rehabilitation and return to activity after lateral ankle ligament repair. Early mobilization is considered an important element of postoperative rehabilitation.  Patients have to be immobilized for approximately six weeks to protect the delicate repair. Lateral ankle ligament repair with suture tape augmentation results in greater strength compared with standard repairs and early mobilization proved to be successful in small sample size studies. Augmented surgery technique is getting increasingly popular. However, it is unknown which rehabilitation regimes are used. It is essential to establish a clear evidence-based guideline for rehabilitation after surgery.

Methods: A systematic literature search was performed to obtain the best evidence research regarding this surgery. In cooperation between the orthopaedic- and physical therapy department a post-operative rehabilitation protocol with early mobilization was established. This STRONG protocol (figure 1) is based on milestones and three stages.    

Results: In February 2016 the first patients were selected for the early mobilization regime. In total 102 patients with a lateral ankle ligament repair were treated with the STRONG protocol. No re-ruptures were observed with a follow up of a year. In a subgroup of athletes hop tests showed a symmetry index of 100,5% for triple hop, 98,6 for side hop and 103,6 for figure of 8 hop. First return to sport was achieved between 9-12 weeks, with full return to competition after a mean of 4 months.  

Conclusions: An early postoperative mobilization regime based on supervised exercises seems to be a safe intervention after a lateral ankle ligament reconstruction.

Clinical implications: Augmented ankle ligament surgery with early mobilization could be an important advancement in treating patients with chronic ankle injuries.


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