This investigation examined, via single system design, the effects of a supplemental aquatic physical therapy program on single limb stance performance and ankle edema following an acute lateral ankle sprain.
Two female subjects, both NCAA Division III athletes at Widener University, participated with signed informed consents as two separate single system studies. As determined by a physical therapist/athletic trainer, both subjects sustained a grade II lateral ankle sprain. Subject 1 refused aquatic intervention and received a sixty-minute land based rehabilitation program 4-5 times/week until return to sport. Subject 2 received thirty minutes of both land based and aquatic rehabilitation 4-5 times/week until return to sport. Following each treatment session, three conditions were tested for both subjects: 1) single limb stance with eyes open, 2) single limb stance with eyes closed and 3) ankle edema using a figure of eight technique.
Each subject's single limb stance data were first tested for autocorrelation, and then analyzed using celeration lines and the split middle technique. Girth measurements were analyzed using Pearson correlation coefficient (alpha levels of 0.05). During baseline, mean single limb stance (SLS) time for subject 1 was 0.43s with eyes open (EO) and 0.32s with eyes closed (EC). Mean SLS time for subject 2 during baseline was 0.81s with EO and 1.2s with EC. During intervention, mean SLS time for subject 1 was 5.52 with EO and 2.09 with EC. Mean SLS time for subject 2 during intervention was 23.25s with EO and 4.78 with EC. Baseline mean girth measurements were 50.83 cm for subject 1 and 52.60 cm for subject 2. Intervention mean girth measurements were 50.50 cm for subject 1 and 51.16 cm for subject 2. Subject 2 EO showed statistical significance, however there was not significance detected for subject 1 EO/EC or subject 2 EC.
Girth measurements for both subjects showed a downward trend but were not statistically significant. There is a positive relationship between the use of a supplemental aquatic physical therapy program and performance of unilateral balance tests with eyes open. Aquatic physical therapy is a useful tool for balance retraining following an ankle sprain.