A study protocol for a randomized controlled trial evaluating vibration therapy as an intervention for postural training and fall prevention after distal radius fracture in elderly patients

Trials. 2020 Jan 16;21(1):95. doi: 10.1186/s13063-019-4013-0.


Background: Fractures of the distal radius are one of the most common osteoporotic fractures in elderly men and women. These fractures are a particular health concern amongst the elderly, who are at risk of fragility fractures, and are associated with long-term functional impairment, pain and a variety of complications. This is a sentinel event, as these fractures are associated with a two to four times increased risk of subsequent hip fractures in elderly patients. This is an important concept, as it is well established that these patients have an increased risk of falling. Fall prevention is therefore crucial to decrease further morbidity and mortality. The purpose of this study is to investigate the effect of low-magnitude high-frequency vibration (LMHFV) on postural stability and prevention of falls in elderly patients post distal radius fracture.

Methods: This is a prospective single-blinded randomized controlled trial. Two hundred patients will be recruited consecutively with consent, and randomized to either LMHFV (n = 100) or a control group (n = 100). The primary outcome is postural stability measured by the static and dynamic ability of patients to maintain centre of balance on the Biodex Balance System SD. Secondary outcomes are the occurrence of fall(s), the health-related quality of life 36-item short form instrument, the Timed Up and Go test for basic mobility skills, compliance and adverse events. Outcome assessments for both groups will be performed at baseline (0 month) and at 6 weeks, 3 months and 6 months time points.

Discussion: Previous studies have stressed the importance of reducing falls after distal radius fracture has occurred in elderly patients, and an effective intervention is crucial. Numerous studies have proven vibration therapy to be effective in improving balancing ability in normal patients; However, no previous study has applied the device for patients with fractures. Our study will attempt to translate LMHFV to patients with fractures to improve postural stability and prevent recurrent falls. Positive results would provide a large impact on the prevention of secondary fractures and save healthcare costs.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT03380884. Registered on 21 December 2017.

Keywords: Distal radius fracture; Fall prevention; Postural stability; Randomized controlled trial; Vibration.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Hong Kong / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoporotic Fractures / complications*
  • Osteoporotic Fractures / epidemiology
  • Postural Balance / physiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life
  • Radius Fractures / etiology*
  • Time and Motion Studies
  • Vibration / adverse effects
  • Vibration / therapeutic use*

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03380884