Background: Intensive rehabilitation of patients with severe traumatic brain injury is generally applied in the subacute stages of the hospital stay. Few studies have assessed the association between early and intensive physical rehabilitation and functional outcomes. The aim of this trial is to assess the feasibility of an intensive physical rehabilitation intervention focusing on mobilisation to the upright position, starting as early as clinically possible versus standard care in the intensive care unit. The feasibility study is intended to inform a subsequent randomised clinical trial that will investigate benefits and harms of the intervention.
Methods: This randomised clinical feasibility trial with a follow-up period of 1 year will use blinded outcome assessors for the Coma Recovery Scale-Revised. A maximum of 60 patients admitted to the neurointensive care unit at Rigshospitalet, Denmark, with traumatic brain injury (age of at least 18 years), a low level of consciousness, and stable intracranial pressure will be included in the trial. Patients will be randomly assigned to experimental intervention versus standard care (1:1) stratified according to their Glasgow Coma Score. The intervention group will receive daily mobilisation in a tilt table with an integrated stepping device (ERIGO®). Feasibility is declared if more than 60% (the lower 95% confidence interval of the proportion) of eligible patients are included in the trial and more than 52% (the lower 95% confidence interval of the proportion) of patients in the intervention group receive more than 60% of the planned interventions. Safety is assessed by the occurrence of adverse events and adverse reactions. Exploratory clinical outcomes consist of cerebral haemodynamics (blood flow velocity and pressure autoregulation) and baroreceptor sensitivity in the early phase as well as functional outcomes (Coma Recovery Scale-Revised, Early Functional Ability scale, and Functional Independence Measure).
Discussion: Our findings will inform a future, larger-scale randomised clinical trial on early mobilisation using a tilt table early after severe traumatic brain injury.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT02924649 . Registered on 3 October 2016.
Keywords: Brain injury; Cerebral autoregulation of blood flow; Randomised feasibility trial; Rehabilitation; Tilt-table therapy.