Authors:A. Kynsburg, Gergely Pánics, and T. Halasi
Preventive effect of proprioceptive training is proven by decreasing injury incidence, but its proprioceptive mechanism is not. Major hypothesis: the training has a positive long-term effect on ankle joint position sense in athletes of a high-risk sport (handball). Ten elite-level female handball-players represented the intervention group (training-group), 10 healthy athletes of other sports formed the control-group. Proprioceptive training was incorporated into the regular training regimen of the training-group. Ankle joint position sense function was measured with the “slope-box” test, first described by Robbins et al. Testing was performed one day before the intervention and 20 months later. Mean absolute estimate errors were processed for statistical analysis. Proprioceptive sensory function improved regarding all four directions with a high significance (p<0.0001; avg. mean estimate error improvement: 1.77°). This was also highly significant (p≤0.0002) in each single directions, with avg. mean estimate error improvement between 1.59° (posterior) and 2.03° (anterior). Mean absolute estimate errors at follow-up (2.24°±0.88°) were significantly lower than in uninjured controls (3.29°±1.15°) (p<0.0001). Long-term neuromuscular training has improved ankle joint position sense function in the investigated athletes. This joint position sense improvement can be one of the explanations for injury rate reduction effect of neuromuscular training.