American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Annual Meeting

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Annual Meeting

Perspective from Carol Frey, MD
March 08, 2016
2 min read

Supervised physical therapy not linked with improved outcomes after ankle fracture

Perspective from Carol Frey, MD
You've successfully added to your alerts. You will receive an email when new content is published.

Click Here to Manage Email Alerts

We were unable to process your request. Please try again later. If you continue to have this issue please contact

ORLANDO, Fla. — Patients who underwent supervised physical therapy following surgical treatment of ankle fracture showed no differences in outcome scores compared with patients who had surgeon-directed rehabilitation, according to results presented here.

“We were not able to identify specific factors which did yield a better benefit with formalized physical therapy, and we think this represents an area for further research,” Chad Ferguson, MD, said in his presentation at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Annual Meeting.

Eighty patients with either bimalleolar or trimalleolar fractures with or without dislocation and underwent operative treatment were prescribed either formal physical therapy directed by a physical therapist or self-directed exercise instruction from the physician (no formal physical therapy) for 6 weeks to 6 months. Researchers assessed patient-reported outcome scores, as well as injury characteristics, patient demographics and pre-post fixation and follow-up radiographs.

Patients who received physical therapy were more likely to have private insurance than patients who were not prescribed formal physical therapy, according to Ferguson. He also noted 84% of patients who received formal physical therapy were referred from a private practice vs. 19% from an academic institution. Results showed no differences between groups in outcome scores at 6-months or in complication rates. However, Ferguson noted a 30% higher complication rate compared with previously published results.

Of the 38 patients prescribed formal physical therapy, 85% attended at least one session, with 36 visits in 6 months as the maximum number of sessions for one patient, according to results.

“With the cost of $125 per session, the maximum cost was $4,500 for one patient with a total cost for the cohort of $62,000,” Ferguson said. – by Casey Tingle


Ferguson C, et al. Paper #744. Presented at: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Annual Meeting; March 1-5, 2016; Orlando, Fla.

Disclosure: Ferguson reports no relevant financial disclosures.