Background: After harvesting the fibula flap, pain, sensory disturbance, weakness of donor leg, reduced walking endurance, ankle instability, and lower walking speed had been reported. The aim of this study was to quantitatively assess functional outcome of regular home-based exercise on donor ankle strength, endurance, and walking ability after free fibula flap for mandibular reconstruction.
Methods: Fourteen patients were recruited. Objective isokinetic testing and a 6-min walk test (6MWT) were used to evaluate ankle strength/endurance and walking ability, respectively.
Results: There was a significant increase in the peak torque of ankle dorsiflexion/foot inversion of the healthy leg and ankle dorsiflexion/foot eversion of the donor leg after exercise (p < 0.05). After home-based exercise, there was reduced asymmetry in the peak torques of ankle dorsiflexion and foot eversion and the total work of foot eversion between the donor and healthy legs. In 6MWT, no significant difference was found between the walking distances before and after exercise.
Conclusion: Regular home-based exercise could improve the strength of ankle dorsiflexion and foot eversion of the donor leg, and get more symmetric ankle motor function between the donor and healthy legs.