Oct 19, 2015Study: Supervised Exercise Doesn’t Expedite Ankle Fracture Rehab
Patients recovering from a typical ankle fracture are no better off going through a supervised exercise rehab program than simply receiving physician advice on recovery. According to an article on Medscape.com, researchers at the University of Sydney came to this conclusion after a study of 214 subjects. The study, titled “Rehabilitation After Immobilization for Ankle Fracture,” appeared in the Oct. 6 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.
“We have previously shown that recovery of activity limitation after ankle fracture is rapid in the first 6 months and that adding passive stretch or manual therapy to a supervised exercise program did not enhance the benefits of exercise alone,” the authors wrote. “It is possible that the lack of treatment effect we observed in this trial is attributable to the fact that rehabilitation cannot accelerate this rapid recovery. These findings and the findings of the present trial suggest that routine care for patients after isolated ankle fracture should include self-management advice at the time of removal of immobilization but not a supervised exercise program.”
Subjects were randomly placed into two groups. Members of one group went through an individually tailored, prescribed, monitored, and progressive exercise program. The other received a single session of self-management advice about exercise and return to activity.
After three months, both groups saw similar improvement in activity limitation (from 30.2 to 64.3 in the exercise group and 30.1 to 64.3 in the advice group, with higher scores representing better activity). The results were also comparable in quality of life with the exercise program group improving from 0.54 to 0.85 and the advice group increasing from 0.51 to 0.85. Similar results were also seen after six months.
“A supervised exercise program and advice did not confer additional benefits in activity limitation or quality of life compared with advice alone for patients with isolated and uncomplicated ankle fracture,” the authors concluded. “These findings do not support the routine use of supervised exercise programs after removal of immobilization for patients with isolated and uncomplicated ankle fracture.”