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NIHR Signal Functional braces are effective alternatives to plaster casts for ruptured Achilles tendons
Early weight-bearing in a below-knee rigid boot, a functional brace, following ruptured Achilles tendon can achieve similar results to traditional plaster casting. This NIHR-funded trial included 540 people, and after nine months there appeared to be no difference between the two treatments in terms of how well patients recovered from their injury. The functional brace was preferred by patients. Functional bracing is an alternative to traditional plaster casting that allows earlier weight-beari...
NIHR Signal Plasma and blood cell injections have not shown a benefit for Achilles tendon injury
Injecting a ruptured Achilles tendon with a small sample of a person’s own plasma, without the red blood cells, has no functional or other benefit. Plasma rich in platelets and white blood cells for the acute injury was compared with placebo. The NIHR-funded trial involved 230 adults with acute Achilles tendon rupture (the tendon which connects the calf muscles to the heel). All were attending UK hospitals within 12 days of injury. The trial found no difference in function at 24 weeks aft...
NIHR Signal A lifestyle change programme not effective for those at risk of heart disease or stroke
A package of extra support, including motivational interviewing, did not add value in terms of boosting weight loss or physical activity in people at high risk of cardiovascular disease, a new study has found. This NIHR-funded trial recruited 1,220 people deemed at high risk of heart disease or stroke. Researchers compared the clinical and cost-effectiveness of the enhanced support, which was based on cognitive theory, in either a group or individual format. A third group was referred to commun...
NIHR Signal Pedometers can help people get more active as part of an exercise programme
Pedometers and accelerometers helped people with diabetes or cardiovascular diseases to increase their physical activity by a moderate amount, though pedometers were more successful. Programmes that involved face-to-face consultations with a facilitator were more effective than those where devices were used in isolation to track progress. This NIHR-funded systematic review included 36 trials which objectively measured the activity of people with cardiac or metabolic conditions, and in which wea...
NIHR Signal A workplace voucher reward scheme failed to boost physical activity
Staff enrolled on a workplace reward scheme to encourage them to become more physically active took fewer steps per day than their colleagues in the control group after six months. Employees at two public sector organisations in Northern Ireland took part in the Physical Activity Loyalty scheme, which worked in a similar way to a high street loyalty card. Their activity levels during the workday were monitored using key fobs and remote sensors. The participants were rewarded for physical activi...
NIHR Signal Diet and physical activity interventions targeting children and youth have different, yet small, effects on preventing obesity
Obesity prevention interventions which include both diet and physical activity may reduce the risk of obesity in pre-school children. Once at school, physical activity appears to be more effective for weight loss than diet alone. Resulting weight loss form any intervention, if any, has been very small with unclear benefits to the individual or population. This NIHR-supported Cochrane systematic review pooled the results of 153 global randomised-control trials (sevenfrom the UK) aiming to preven...
NIHR Signal Exercise training improves physical capacity after lung cancer surgery
People who receive exercise training following surgery for lung cancer can walk about 57 metres further in six minutes than controls who did not exercise. After surgery like thisto remove all or part of a lung, people typically manage about 500 metres in six minutes on the test, and anything above 20 metres is considered a worthwhile improvement. Exercise also increases leg strength and quality of life. A decline in physical fitness is a common and debilitating effect of lung resection. Exerci...
NIHR Signal Robot-assisted training offers little useful improvement in severe arm weakness and function after stroke
People who have severe arm weakness following stroke have no better function after robot-assisted training or enhanced upper limb therapy than those who have usual NHS care. This large multicentre trial, funded by the NIHR, randomised 770 adult stroke patients to robot-assisted training using the MIT-Manus robotic gym, to an enhanced therapy programme or to usual NHS care. All three groups had improved arm function after three months, with no significant differences between the groups. The rob...
NIHR Signal Cardiac rehabilitation for heart failure can improve quality of life and fitness
Exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation may improve the quality of life and physical fitness of people with heart failure but does not reduce their risk of being admitted to hospital or dying. This is irrespective of factors such as age and ethnicity. This NIHR study summarised the outcome data from trials assessing exercise programmes for over 4,000 people with heart failure. At an individual level, the review looked for any improvements in physical symptoms and the psychological impacts of livi...
NIHR Signal Non-invasive brain stimulation may improve outcomes for children with brain injury
Non-invasive brain stimulation may help improve limb function in children with motor disorders following brain injury, such as cerebral palsy or one-sided weakness. This is a relatively safe procedure where pads placed on the head deliver electric or magnetic currents, which are thought to activate the motor areas of the brain. This review evaluated 14 trials, including 306 children comparing two types of brain stimulation with a control group. It found that these types of stimulation may impro...
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