The purpose of this systematic review with meta-analysis was to determine the effectiveness of functional performance tests (FPTs) in differentiating between individuals with chronic ankle instability (CAI) and healthy controls.
The National Library of Medicine Catalog (PubMed), the Cumulative Index for Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), and the SPORTDiscus, from inception to June 2017 were searched. Search terms consisted of: “Functional Performance Test*” OR “Dynamic Balance Test*” OR “Postural Stability Test*” OR “Star Excursion Balance Test*” OR “Hop Test*” AND “Ankle Instability” OR “Ankle Sprain.” Included articles assessed differences in FPTs in patients with CAI compared with a control group.
Included studies were assessed for methodological quality and level of evidence. Individual and mean effect sizes were also calculated for FPTs from the included articles. Twenty-nine studies met the criteria and were analyzed. The most common FPTs were timed-hop tests, side-hop, multiple-hop test, single-hop for distance, foot-lift test, and the Star Excursion Balance Tests (SEBTs). The side-hop (g = -1.056, P = 0.009, n = 7), timed-hop tests (g = -0.958, P = 0.002, n = 9), multiple-hop test (g = 1.399, P < 0.001, n = 3), and foot-lift tests (g = -0.761, P = 0.020, n = 3) demonstrated the best utility with large mean effect sizes, whereas the SEBT anteromedial (g = 0.326, P = 0.022, n = 7), medial (g = 0.369, P = 0.006, n = 7), and posteromedial (g = 0.374, P < 0.001, n = 13) directions had moderate effects.
The side-hop, timed-hopping, multiple-hop, and foot-lift seem the best FPTs to evaluate individuals with CAI. There was a large degree of heterogeneity and inconsistent reporting, potentially limiting the clinical implementation of these FPTs. These tests are cheap, effective, alternatives compared with instrumented measures.