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Early motion and directed exercise (EMADE) versus usual care post ankle fracture fixation: study protocol for a pragmatic randomised controlled trial

Matthews, Paul A.; Scammell, Brigitte E.; Ali, Arfan; Coughlin, Timothy; Nightingale, Jessica; Khan, Tanvir; Ollivere, Ben J.

Early motion and directed exercise (EMADE) versus usual care post ankle fracture fixation: study protocol for a pragmatic randomised controlled trial Thumbnail


Paul A. Matthews

Brigitte E. Scammell

Arfan Ali

Timothy Coughlin

Jessica Nightingale

Tanvir Khan


Background: Following surgical fixation of ankle fractures, the traditional management has included immobilisation for 6 weeks in a below-knee cast. However, this can lead to disuse atrophy of the affected leg and joint stiffness. While early rehabilitation from 2 weeks post surgery is viewed as safe, controversy remains regarding its benefits. We will compare the effectiveness of early motion and directed exercise (EMADE) ankle rehabilitation, against usual care, i.e. 6 weeks’ immobilisation in a below-knee cast.
Method/design: We have designed a pragmatic randomised controlled trial (p-RCT) to compare the EMADE intervention against usual care. We will recruit 144 independently living adult participants, absent of tissue-healing comorbidities, who have undergone surgical stabilisation of isolated Weber B ankle fractures. The EMADE intervention consists of a non-weight-bearing progressive home exercise programme, complemented with manual therapy and education. Usual care consists of immobilisation in a non-weight-bearing below-knee cast. The intervention period is between week 2 and week 6 post surgery. The primary outcome is the Olerud and Molander Ankle Score (OMAS) patient-reported outcome measure (PROM) at 12 weeks post surgery. Secondary PROMs include the EQ-5D-5 L questionnaire, return to work and return to driving, with objective outcomes including ankle range of motion. Analysis will be on an intention-to-treat basis. An economic evaluation will be included.
Discussion: The EMADE intervention is a package of care designed to address the detrimental effects of disuse atrophy and joint stiffness. An advantage of the OMAS is the potential of meta-analysis with other designs. Within the economic evaluation, the cost-utility analysis, may be used by commissioners, while the use of patient-relevant outcomes, such as return to work and driving, will ensure that the study remains pertinent to patients and their families. As it is being conducted in the clinical environment, this p-RCT has high external validity. Accordingly, if significant clinical benefits and cost-effectiveness are demonstrated, EMADE should become a worthwhile treatment option. A larger-scale, multicentre trial may be required to influence national guidelines.
Trial registration: ISRCTN, ID: ISRCTN11212729. Registered retrospectively on 20 March 2017.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 16, 2018
Online Publication Date May 31, 2018
Deposit Date Jun 1, 2018
Publicly Available Date Jun 1, 2018
Journal Trials
Electronic ISSN 1745-6215
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 19
Issue 1
Public URL
Publisher URL


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