A recent study questions the benefits of rehabilitation following removal of immobilization after an ankle fracture.

Per a media release from The JAMA Network Journals, the study, published recently in the October 6 edition of JAMA, notes that a supervised exercise program and self-management advice, like what is commonly given with physical therapy, did not improve activity limitation or quality of life compared to advice alone after removal of immobilization in patients with an uncomplicated ankle fracture.

In the study, Anne M. Moseley, PhD, from the University of Sydney, Australia, and her research team randomly assigned 214 patients with isolated ankle fracture presenting to fracture clinics in seven Australian hospitals to rehabilitation (n = 106) or advice alone (n = 108), following removal of immobilization.

Rehabilitation consisted of an exercise program that was individually tailored, prescribed, monitored, and progressed by a physical therapist, as well as advice about self-management. Study participants who received advice alone were provided with a single session of self-management advice about exercise and return to activity, the release continues.

The participants’ activity limitation and quality of life were assessed at the beginning of the study and at 1, 3, and 6 months into the study. For 170 of the patients (79%), there was follow-up at 6 months.

At study entry, participants had significant activity limitation and low quality of life. The researchers found that the rehabilitation program and self-management advice did not improve activity limitation or quality of life compared with advice alone. The treatment effects were not associated with fracture severity, age or sex, the release explains.

“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,” Moseley and her team write, per the release.

“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 [like those typically provided in a physical therapy program],” they conclude.

[Source(s): The JAMA Network Journals, Science Daily]