Ankle sprains are one of the most frequent sports injuries. With respect to the high prevalence of ankle ligament injuries and patients’ young age, optimizing treatment and rehabilitation is mandatory to prevent future complications such as chronic ankle instability or osteoarthritis.
In modern times, an increasing amount of smartphone usage in patient care is evident. Studies investigating mobile health (mHealth)-based rehabilitation programs after ankle sprains are rare. The aim of this study was to expose any issues present in the development process of a medical app as well as associated risks and chances.
The development process of the Ankle Joint App was defined in chronological order using a protocol. The app’s quality was evaluated using the (user) German Mobile App Rating Scale (MARS-G) by voluntary foot and ankle surgeons (n=20) and voluntary athletes (n=20).
A multidisciplinary development team built a hybrid app with a corresponding backend structure. The app’s content provides actual medical literature, training videos, and a log function. Excellent interrater reliability (interrater reliability=0.92; 95% CI 0.86-0.96) was obtained. The mean overall score for the Ankle Joint App was 4.4 (SD 0.5). The mean subjective quality scores were 3.6 (surgeons: SD 0.7) and 3.8 (athletes: SD 0.5). Behavioral change had mean scores of 4.1 (surgeons: SD 0.7) and 4.3 (athletes: SD 0.7). The medical gain value, rated by the surgeons only, was 3.9 (SD 0.6).
The data obtained demonstrate that mHealth-based rehabilitation programs might be a useful tool for patient education and collection of personal data. The achieved (user) MARS-G scores support a high quality of the tested app. Medical app development with an a priori defined target group and a precisely intended purpose, in a multidisciplinary team, is highly promising. Follow-up studies are required to obtain funded evidence for the ankle joints app’s effects on economical and medical aspects in comparison with established nondigital therapy paths.

©Florian Dittrich, David Alexander Back, Anna Katharina Harren, Marcus Jäger, Stefan Landgraeber, Felix Reinecke, Sascha Beck. Originally published in JMIR mHealth and uHealth (, 26.02.2020.