Ankle Motion and Offloading in a Short Leg Cast and Fracture Boots

Nahm N, Bey MJ, Liu S, Guthrie ST. Ankle Motion and Offloading in Short Leg Cast and Low and High Fracture Boots. Foot Ankle Int. 2019 Aug 18

Background: Short leg casts (SLCs) and fracture boots are used to treat foot and ankle injuries, but the decision to use one device over the other is often subjective. This study compared the impact of SLCs and low and high fracture boots on ankle motion and offloading.

Methods: Twenty healthy adults were prospectively studied. High-speed dynamic radiography was utilized to determine tibiotalar range of motion in the sagittal plane during nonweightbearing (NWB) and weightbearing (WB) gait in a shoe (control), SLC, and low and high fracture boots. Sensors captured peak plantar surface forces to determine ankle offloading.

Results: In NWB, the low fracture boot (2.2 ± 2.0 degrees), high fracture boot (2.3 ± 1.6 degrees), and SLC (2.3 ± 1.5 degrees) had significantly less motion compared with the control (3.6 ± 2.1 degrees; P ≤ .026). During WB, the SLC (3.4 ± 1.4 degrees) and high fracture boot (4.8 ± 2.0 degrees) had less motion compared with the low fracture boot (7.8 ± 3.4 degrees; P < .001). Finally, the SLC (172.6% ± 48.3% body weight [BW]) and low fracture (165.1% ± 36.2% BW) and high fracture (154.5% ± 32.9% BW) boots were associated with less peak plantar surface force compared with the control (195.0% ± 43.8% BW; P ≤ .087).

Conclusion: The SLC and high fracture boot immobilized the ankle in NWB and offloaded and immobilized the ankle in WB. The low fracture boot also immobilized the ankle in NWB, but in WB, the low fracture boot only offloaded the ankle and did not immobilize it.

Clinical Relevance: The low fracture boot may be more suited for NWB or possibly immobilizing the foot in WB.