Effect of focus of attention on transfer of a postural control task following an ankle sprain

Nirit Rotem-Lehrer, Yocheved Laufer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fisheye STUDY DESIGN: Randomized clinical trial. Fisheye OBJECTIVE: To examine the effect of attentional focus instructions during training on the transfer of a learned balance capability to a more challenging condition among subjects with ankle ligament injury. Fisheye BACKGROUND: Current evidence suggests that instructions inducing an external focus of attention may be more effective at promoting learning than instructions inducing an internal focus of attention. The effect of attentional direction on transfer has not been tested in populations following a disease or injury, such as lateral ankle sprain, in which postural control is impaired. Fisheye METHODS AND MEASURES: Participants were 36 male volunteers (mean age, 20.9 years; range, 19-33 years) who were referred to physical therapy following a grade 1 or 2 ankle sprain. The patients were randomly allocated to 1 of 2 groups, which were instructed to focus attention either internally or externally during postural control training. Three training sessions were conducted on consecutive days and consisted of ten 20-second trials at 2 stability levels, using the Biodex Stability System. Postural control at an untrained, less stable level was assessed before the initial training session and 48 hours following the last session using the Biodex Stability System. Three measures of stability were used: (1) overall stability, as indicated by the variance in platform displacement in all directions, (2) anterior/posterior variance of platform displacement, and (3) medial/lateral variance of platform displacement. Fisheye RESULTS: Participants utilizing an external focus of attention improved significantly over the study period in all 3 stability indices, while those utilizing internal focus of attention did not improve significantly, Fisheye CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that an external focus of attention is advantageous for the transfer of learning of a postural control task following an ankle injury. Furthermore, they indicate that using an external focus of attention when training under moderately unstable conditions can significantly improve postural control under less stable conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)564-569
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2007


  • Ankle injuries
  • Attention
  • Learning
  • Postural balance
  • Rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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