Study design: Single blind randomized controlled replication study.
Objectives: Evaluate the effect of a pneumatic leg brace on return-to-activity and pain in soldiers with tibial stress fractures.
Methods and measures: Thirty-one subjects diagnosed with tibial stress fractures were randomly assigned to either a brace or control group. Dependent variables included time to pain-free single-leg hopping, visual analog pain scale, and time to a pain-free 1-mile run. Twenty subjects (10 brace, 10 control) completed a detailed functional progression culminating in a 1-mile run.
Results: There was no difference between groups for time to pain-free hop (p > 0.86; power = 0.43) and time to pain-free 1-mile run (p > 0.24; power = 0.92). Subjects in both groups experienced statistically significant improvements in pain measurements (p < 0.002), but no difference was found between groups (p > 0.93).
Conclusion: The current study demonstrated no added benefit of Aircast leg braces in the treatment of tibial stress fractures in the military training environment.