Effects of a training program after surgically treated ankle fracture: a prospective randomised controlled trial
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Background: Despite conflicting results after surgically treated ankle fractures few studies have evaluated the effects of different types of training programs performed after plaster removal. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of a 12-week standardised but individually suited training program ( training group) versus usual care ( control group) after plaster removal in adults with surgically treated ankle fractures. Methods: In total, 110 men and women, 18-64 years of age, with surgically treated ankle fracture were included and randomised to either a 12-week training program or to a control group. Six and twelve months after the injury the subjects were examined by the same physiotherapist who was blinded to the treatment group. The main outcome measure was the Olerud-Molander Ankle Score (OMAS) which rates symptoms and subjectively scored function. Secondary outcome measures were: quality of life (SF-36), timed walking tests, ankle mobility tests, muscle strength tests and radiological status. Results: 52 patients were randomised to the training group and 58 to the control group. Five patients dropped out before the six-month follow-up resulting in 50 patients in the training group and 55 in the control group. Nine patients dropped out between the six- and twelve-month follow-up resulting in 48 patients in both groups. When analysing the results in a mixed model analysis on repeated measures including interaction between age-group and treatment effect the training group demonstrated significantly improved results compared to the control group in subjects younger than 40 years of age regarding OMAS (p = 0.028), muscle strength in the plantar flexors ( p = 0.029) and dorsiflexors ( p = 0.030). Conclusion: The results of this study suggest that when adjusting for interaction between age-group and treatment effect the training model employed in this study was superior to usual care in patients under the age of 40. However, as only three out of nine outcome measures showed a difference, the beneficial effect from an additional standardised individually suited training program can be expected to be limited. There is need for further studies to elucidate how a training program should be designed to increase and optimise function in patients middle-aged or older.