Faculty Publications

Developing A Framework For Ankle Function: A Delphi Study

Document Type



Ankle instability, Ankle sprains, Outcomes

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of Athletic Training





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Context: Addressing clinical outcomes is paramount to providing effective health care, yet there is no consensus regarding the appropriate outcomes to address after ankle injuries. Compounding the problem is the repetitive nature of lateral ankle sprains, referred to as functional (FAI) or chronic (CAI) ankle instability. Although they are commonly used terms in practice and research, FAI and CAI are inconsistently defined and assessed. Objective: To establish definitions of a healthy/normal/noninjured ankle, FAI, and CAI, as well as their characteristics and assessment techniques. Design: Delphi study. Setting: Telephone interviews and electronic surveys. Patients or Other Participants: Sixteen experts representing the fields of ankle function and treatment, ankle research, and outcomes assessment and research were selected as panelists. Data Collection and Analysis: A telephone interview produced feedback regarding the definition of, functional characteristics of, and assessment techniques for a healthy/normal/noninjured ankle, an unhealthy/acutely injured ankle, and FAI/CAI. Those data were compiled, reduced, and returned through electronic surveys and were either included by reaching consensus (80% agreement) or excluded. Results: The definitions of a healthy/normal/noninjured ankle and FAI reached consensus. Experts did not agree on a definition of CAI. Eleven functional characteristics of a healthy/normal/noninjured ankle, 32 functional characteristics of an unhealthy/acutely injured ankle, and 13 characteristics of FAI were agreed upon. Conclusions: Although a consensus was reached regarding the definitions and functional characteristics of a healthy/normal/noninjured ankle and FAI, the experts could only agree on 1 characteristic to include in the FAI definition. Several experts did, however, provide additional comments that reinforced the differences in the interpretation of those concepts. Although the experts could not agree on the definition of CAI, its characteristics, or the preferred use of the terms FAI and CAI, our findings provide progress toward establishing consistency in those concepts.


Department of Health, Recreation, and Community Services

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