Research Project Summary

Year Funded: 2011 Budget: $26,887 Funding Agency: WorkSafeBC
Title: A Pilot Study Towards a Randomized Clinical Trial of Cast Immobilization versus Functional Therapy for Acute, Severe Lateral Ankle Sprains
Category: Occupational Disease, Injury and Health Services
Subcategory: Occupational Injury
Keywords: Ankle sprain, functional rehabilitation, immobilization, randomized clinical trial
Link to research website:


This project is aimed at determining the best way to treat severe ankle sprains to minimize recovery period, hasten return to work, and reduce symptoms of chronic pain and instability. Traditionally, ankle sprains have been treated with early rehabilitation, but this recommendation is based on little scientific evidence. A recent study of the treatment of acute ankle sprains compared immobilization of an ankle in a cast for a ten-day period to early rehabilitation, and showed improved outcomes with the casted group, calling the practice of early rehabilitation only into question. The long-term goal of the research is to resolve this controversy. However, before a full randomized clinical trial can be performed, this smaller scale pilot study will identify possible risks and issues that may occur during a clinical trial.


There is currently little high-quality evidence to support the current practice of early rehabilitation in ankle sprains. Ankle sprains cause significant cost to workers’ compensation programs through delayed return to work, extended payment periods and long-term disability claims. This pilot study will provide the information necessary to design a randomized clinical trial.

Anticipated Results:

It is anticipated that this study will ensure that the proposed methods of studying the research questions are scientifically valid, in preparation for a randomized clinical trial.


Nicholas Rose (UBC)