Utility of gait biofeedback training to improve walking biomechanics in patients with chronic ankle instability : a critically appraised topic

Koldenhoven, Rachel and Simpson, Jeffrey D. and Forsyth, Lauren and Donovan, Luke and Torp, Danielle M. (2022) Utility of gait biofeedback training to improve walking biomechanics in patients with chronic ankle instability : a critically appraised topic. Journal of Sport Rehabilitation, 31 (6). pp. 819-825. ISSN 1543-3072 (https://doi.org/10.1123/jsr.2021-0395)

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Clinical Scenario: Chronic ankle instability (CAI) is a condition that involves feelings of the ankle “giving way,” pain, and decreased self-reported function. Individuals with CAI often demonstrate persistent biomechanical impairments during gait that are associated with repetitive lateral ankle sprains (LAS) and the development of early onset ankle posttraumatic osteoarthritis (OA). Traditional rehabilitation strategies have not successfully improved these reported aberrant gait biomechanics; thus, traditional rehabilitation may not effectively reduce the risk of recurrent LAS and ankle OA among individuals with CAI. Conversely, targeted gait training with biofeedback may be effective at decreasing the risk of recurring LAS and ankle OA if these rehabilitation strategies can promote individuals with CAI to develop a gait strategy that protects against subsequent LAS and ankle OA. Clinical Question: Can targeted gait biofeedback interventions cause individuals with CAI to implement a walking gait pattern that is not associated with recurrent LAS and ankle OA? Summary of Findings: Five studies assessed gait biofeedback interventions targeting plantar pressure and/or ankle kinematics involving visual biofeedback (n = 3), auditory biofeedback (n = 1), and haptic biofeedback (n = 1). Plantar pressure was medially shifted during a single session while receiving biofeedback (n = 2), immediately after biofeedback (n = 1), and 5 minutes after receiving biofeedback (n = 1) in 3 studies. One study demonstrated reduced ankle inversion after 8 sessions of biofeedback training. One study did not substantially improve plantar pressure while receiving visual feedback. Clinical Bottom Line: Targeted gait training strategies appear effective in acutely altering gait biomechanics in individuals with CAI while receiving, and immediately after, biofeedback has been removed. Long-term outcomes are not currently established for gait training strategies in those with CAI. Strength of Recommendation: Limited evidence (grade B) suggests that targeted gait biofeedback strategies can alter specific CAI gait biomechanics to a strategy not associated with recurrent LAS, and ankle OA immediately, and after, multiple sessions of gait training.