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New insights into MalleoTrain “How can we measure stability?”

Issue 01/2020

Study Director, Laura Niklaus from TU Chemnitz, is a scientist and sports therapist , meaning she combines theory and practice. The perfect fit for exploring the complex subject of ankle stability.

Bauerfeind life: What is the objective behind the MalleoTrain study?

Laura Niklaus: We want to establish experimental and clinical data relating to the functional effectiveness of the support used in post-traumatic treatment after five and seven weeks. In the first five weeks, the test subjects will wear an orthosis, in compliance with trauma surgery guidelines for the treatment of a recent lateral collateral ligament rupture on the upper ankle.

Why are measurements taking place over a period of time rather than one point in time?

Laura Niklaus: Our hypothesis is that there is a sustained stabilizing effect when the support is worn long-term. If patients wear the support only now and then, they will not benefit much if they want to be confident when being out and about without it later. Hence the intervention study: five weeks with an orthosis, then we’ll measure with and without MalleoTrain and then there will be another measurement two weeks later. This sequence also makes sense from a therapeutic point of view.


Laura Niklaus: Because after using an orthosis, continuing treatment is needed. That’s what we have supports for after all.
A hard break will be avoided. We know that a lot happens in terms of stability between weeks six and eight. That’s the perfect time to stop restricting the foot in its movement and support it instead. An opportunity that should be seized.

In what way may impaired proprioception be a consideration?

Laura Niklaus: It’s an extremely exciting aspect which we have measured with our joint angle reproduction test , for example. We spent a lot of time discussing how we can describe the functional effectiveness of the support. How can we measure stability? What is the difference between mechanical and functional stability? Does functional stability mean putting one’s foot down at the right angle? Or being able to balance well? Or does it simply mean not twisting your ankle? That’s what we’re trying to find out.

What about the sensorimotor effects of MalleoTrain?

Laura Niklaus: It’s an aspect with huge potential that affects proprioception. We know that athletes can be treated very well with proprioceptive exercises1. A modified sensory function and its motor response is an absolutely worthwhile topic. Our gait analyses and balance tests with MalleoTrain will show whether we could even find a diagnostic tool. Who has what tendency? Who is prone to recurring injuries, who to chronic instability? 

1 McGuine TA, Keene JS (2006) The effect of a balance training program on the risk of ankle sprains in high school athletes. Am J Sports Med 34: 1103-11 (Level 1)

Image: Frank Steinhorst

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