Lateral Ankle Sprain (LAS) or as commonly referred to as “rolling the ankle”, is often considered as a “simple” injury, however, the long-term prognosis of it is poor, with a up to 70% patients reporting persistent residual symptoms and injury recurrence. During the 12-month period following a first-time LAS injury, athletes have a significantly increased risk of re-injury in comparison with athletes who have never incurred an LAS injury.
Progressing the athlete’s rehabilitation program and ultimately making decisions regarding return to sport requires a resolution of any functional limitation that resulted from the injury, restoration / improvement of cardio-vascular endurance and high confidence levels by the athlete in his/her ability to return to play.
It is important to obtain objective measures that would help evaluate the athlete’s readiness to progress in the rehabilitation stages and gradually return to sport, those usually include stability and performance testing that should be carried out throughout the rehabilitation process.
The 2016 Consensus statement on Return To Sport (RTS) describes three phases that are on a continuum:
- Return to participation – the athlete is participating in training or at a lower level than wanted/other type pf sport, is not yet ready to RTS.
- Return to sport – the athlete is participating in their previous level specific sport, however not able to perform in the desired level.
- Return to performance – the athlete can participate in their desired level sport and performing at the same / above previous performance.
For the athletes to safely move from just participating in their sport to preform at the level that they are expecting, the late stage of the rehab is extremely important and unfortunately often gets overlooked due to time and logistic constraints. This stage should include advanced high-level exercises and drills that would challenge not just the athlete’s ankle, but the whole body.
It is also imperative to provide the athlete with a detailed rehab plan and schedule goals such as first training session with the team and first match. At this stage, the athlete we should also strive to transition from rehab to performance enhancement as much as possible.
Navigating through this complicated process and making decisions can be confusing and stressful. Our physios are highly capable in providing the best evidence care and make sure that you are on the right track to full recovery and achieving your personal goals.