BACKGROUND: Postural control deficits have been purported to be a potential contributing factor in chronic ankle instability (CAI). Summary forceplate measures such as center of pressure velocity and area have not consistently detected postural control deficits associated with CAI. A novel measurement technique derived from the dynamical systems theory of motor control known as Time-to-boundary (TTB) has shown promise in detecting deficits in postural control related to chronic ankle instability (CAI). In a previous study, TTB deficits were detected in a sample of females with CAI. The purpose of this study was to examine postural control in sample of males and females with and without CAI using TTB measures.

METHODS: This case-control study was performed in a research laboratory. Thirty-two subjects (18 males, 14 females) with self-reported CAI were recruited and matched to healthy controls. All subjects performed three, ten-second trials of single-limb stance on a forceplate with eyes open and eyes closed. Main outcome measures included the TTB absolute minimum (s), mean of TTB minima (s), and standard deviation of TTB minima (s) in the anteroposterior and mediolateral directions. A series of group by gender analyses of variance were conducted to evaluate the differences in postural control for all TTB variables separately with eyes open and eyes closed.

RESULTS: There were no significant group by gender interactions or gender main effects for any of the measures. There, however, significant group main effects for 4 of the 6 measures with eyes closed as the CAI group demonstrated significant deficits in comparison to the control group. There were no significant differences between groups in any of the TTB measures with eyes open.

CONCLUSION: TTB deficits were present in the CAI group compared to the control group. These deficits were detected with concurrent removal of visual input. CAI may place significantly greater constraints on the sensorimotor system during single limb stance, resulting in a reorganization of postural control strategies. These deficits may be indicative of a diminished ability to respond effectively to changes in postural control demands in those with CAI.

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Published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, v. 9, 76.

© 2008 McKeon and Hertel; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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