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New research: Brace vs tape

> User-friendly ankle brace just as effective as ankle tape


Medical guidelines for general practitioners state that injury to ankle ligament should be treated for a period of six weeks with tape. However, new research now shows that an ankle brace is just as effective as tape.

Professor in sports medicine at the Universitair Medisch Centrum Utrecht (UMCU), Frank Backx, compared the effect of an ankle brace with ankle tape in a scientific research project. The rationale behind this research was that questions were posed by athletes and doctors specialised in sports medicine. They wondered whether a brace just as much as tape, helps in the case of an acute injury to the ankle ligaments. For some time, they had no longer been using ankle braces solely with a preventive use as prescribed by medical guidelines. Backx concluded that both treatment methods are just as effective if you look at residual complaints or the reoccurrence of ligament damage to the same ankle. In the case of both types of therapy, about a quarter still have residual complaints a year on. In 15% of patients, the injury has reoccurred. Sports professor Backx sees the difference in the ease of use: a brace for example can be removed before taking a bath or showering whereas tape cannot. A patient is not dependent on a physiotherapist who applies the tape. However, a brace is generally not reimbursed by health insurers, whereas tape is. New guidelines are being drafted.

> 600,000 injuries


In the Netherlands, about 3.5 million sports injuries every year occur. Each year, about 600,000 ankle injuries arrive on the doorsteps of general practitioners. This is half of the total number of ankle sprains in the Netherlands every year, varying from minor to serious. 'The ankle is anatomically a vulnerable joint', according to Backx. 'The muscles surrounding the ankle do the heavy work, however the amount of strain experienced by muscles has reduced over the years. Children no longer go out and play as much and therefore have weaker motor skills. And if they do participate in any sporting activities, it is usually not in suitable footwear. This causes weakened ankle muscles and more sprains. A brace is not a universal remedy, but it helps in moving correctly. You will still have to build up the condition of your muscles. It is however a misunderstanding that the use of ankle braces leads to a weakening of the ankle muscles.'
> Nea International bv