Progressive exercise versus best practice advice for adults aged 50 years or over after ankle fracture: the AFTER pilot randomised controlled trial.
Keene DJ., Costa ML., Peckham N., Tutton E., Barber VS., Dutton SJ., Hopewell S., Redmond AC., Willett K., Lamb SE., AFTER pilot trial collabororators None.
OBJECTIVE: The aim of the Ankle Fracture Treatment: Enhancing Rehabilitation (AFTER) study, a multicentre external pilot parallel-group randomised controlled trial (RCT), was to assess feasibility of a definitive trial comparing rehabilitation approaches after ankle fracture. SETTING: Five UK National Health Service hospitals. PARTICIPANTS: Participants were aged 50 years and over with an ankle fracture requiring immobilisation for at least 4 weeks. INTERVENTIONS: Participants were allocated 1:1 via a central web-based randomisation system to: (1) best practice advice (one session of physiotherapy, up to two optional additional advice sessions) or (2) progressive exercise (up to six sessions of physiotherapy). PRIMARY OUTCOME MEASURES: Feasibility: (1) participation rate, (2) intervention adherence and (3) retention. RESULTS: Sixty-one of 112 (54%) eligible participants participated, exceeding progression criteria for participation of 25%. Recruitment progression criteria was 1.5 participants per site per month and 1.4 was observed. At least one intervention session was delivered for 28/30 (93%) of best practice advice and 28/31 (90%) of progressive exercise participants, exceeding the 85% progression criteria. For those providing follow-up data, the proportion of participants reporting performance of home exercises in the best practice advice and the progressive exercise groups at 3 months was 20/23 (87%) and 21/25 (84%), respectively. Mean time from injury to starting physiotherapy was 74.1 days (95% CI 53.9 to 94.1 days) for the best practice advice and 72.7 days (95% CI 54.7 to 88.9) for the progressive exercise group. Follow-up rate (6-month Olerud and Molander Ankle Score) was 28/30 (93%) for the best practice advice group and 26/31 (84%) in the progressive exercise group with an overall follow-up rate of 89%. CONCLUSIONS: This pilot RCT demonstrated that a definitive trial would be feasible. The main issues to address for a definitive trial are intervention modifications to enable earlier provision of rehabilitation and ensuring similar rates of follow-up in each group. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: ISRCTN16612336.