A protocol for a feasibility randomised controlled trial to assess the difference between functional bracing and plaster cast for the treatment of ankle fractures.
Kearney RS., Parsons N., Mistry D., Young J., Brown J., O'Beirne-Elliman J., Costa M.
BACKGROUND: UK Hospital Episode Statistics 2013-2014 recorded 57,286 fractures of the lower limb including the ankle. This figure is expected to continue to increase due to a greater population of older adults. Following an ankle fracture, patients usually have their ankle immobilised with a plaster cast. This provides maximum support for the healing ankle but is associated with stiffness and muscle wasting. A Cochrane Review has concluded that functional bracing may reduce muscle wasting and speed recovery of ankle movement. The aim of this study is to determine the feasibility of conducting a full randomised controlled trial in adults with an ankle fracture followed by functional bracing and exercises versus standard plaster cast care. METHODS: This is a single-centre feasibility randomised controlled trial. All patients with a fractured ankle are potentially eligible. The trial will employ 1:1 random allocation, stratified by age and non-operative/operative management. Baseline demographic and pre-injury functional data, the Manchester-Oxford Foot and Ankle Questionnaire (MOXFQ) and Olerud and Molander Ankle Score (OMAS) will be collected alongside the EuroQol EQ-5D-5 L health-related quality of life questionnaire. A research associate will perform a clinical assessment and obtain X-rays in 6 weeks and 6 months post randomisation to record complications. Functional outcome and health-related quality of life will be collected in 6 weeks, 3 and 6 months post randomisation. DISCUSSION: This feasibility trial will provide authoritative high-quality evidence to inform the design of a definitive trial in this important area. TRIAL REGISTRATION SPONSORSHIP AND FUNDING: This study is registered with the ISRCTN (ISRCTN17809322), assigned 5 November 2015 and approved by the NRES Committee (The Black Country, 15/WM/0340), protocol version 2.0 (17 November 2015). It is co-sponsored by the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust and University of Warwick and funded by the NIHR Research for Patient Benefit (PB-PG-0614-34009). The trial sponsors have no direct involvement in any aspects of study design, conduct or decision to submit the report for publication.