Ankle sprains are one of the most common musculoskeletal injuries, usually involving a stretched or torn ligament in the joint. A simple misstep leading to a sprain can significantly impact physical activity and quality of life.

Prevention and recovery of ankle sprains usually involve external passive supports, such as tape and braces. But these solutions can cause problems.

Long-term use of passive methods can weaken the supporting muscles and soft tissue around the joint, making a person reliant on their perpetual use. While restricting the motion of the joint can prevent future sprains, it also causes the ankle to be less able to deal with disturbances such as uneven terrain without added support and negatively alters the natural function of the foot and leg.

A team of researchers from Arizona State University is creating an active, automated ankle support system to overcome the limitations of current treatment methods.

The Smart User-Effective Data-Enabled, or SUEDE, Shoe is a wearable smart shoe system that actively supports the ankle without hindering natural motion. Its soft brace can adjust the stiffness of the support to assist the user as needed, rather than the less-helpful constant support tapes and traditional braces offer.

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