This is a validation study on a prognostic tool for ankle sprains
Ankle sprains are one of the most common soft tissue injuries, mostly involving the ligaments (strong bands of tissue connecting together bones) on the outside of the ankle. Many people go to A&E with a sprained ankle every year, with the extent of injury varying from minor stretching to complete tear of the ligaments. The injury itself is painful and, unless minor, makes walking difficult. Symptoms generally last for weeks but, for a significant minority of people, they can actually last for months or years. Treatment generally depends on how bad the injury is but includes advice, self care, physiotherapy, ankle support, immobilisation and surgical repair. It is often very difficult to determine how serious the injury is at initial presentation, due to the swelling and pain caused by the injury. Simple tests like standing on one leg can help to determine how bad the injury is. Summaries of the research literature conclude there is a lack of good-quality evidence to help clinical decision-making. Probably as a result of this, there is no standard guideline for UK emergency department (ED) clinicians to follow, so clinical practice varies. Our group have completed a large study looking at which types of ankle support are best for severe sprains. We are planning to use the data from this trial to develop a tool that will help clinicians assess the risk of patients having a good or poor recovery. We will then check how well it works in a new set of patients recruited from A&Es around the UK.