Patient-Oriented Functional Outcome After Unilateral Lower Extremity Fracture

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Summary:To determine patient-perceived functional outcome after lower extremity fracture (LEF), a prospective, follow-up study of patients managed at three level I trauma centers was conducted. Patients with unilateral LEF involving the acetabulum and distally were eligible for the study. A total of 444 patients were enrolled. Of these, 363 (82%) were interviewed at 6 months postdischarge. Study patients were predominantly young (mean age 34 years), white (72%) men (71%) who had been working preinjury (78%). Their injuries resulted primarily from motor vehicle crashes (73%); 30% had more than one fracture to the same extremity. Functional status was measured using the Sickness Impact Profile (SIP), a well-validated, general health status instrument. Mean 6-month SIP scores were significantly worse (higher) than those based on preinjury activities (9.8 vs. 2.5) (p < 0.01). Overall disability levels were moderate compared with other health conditions. Analysis of the 12 subscores comprising the SIP indicated particularly high scores in ambulation (16.2 postdischarge vs. 1.1 preinjury), sleep/rest (13.1 vs. 5.1), household management (14.5 vs. 2.6), recreation (17.6 vs. 4.2), emotional well-being (9.9 vs. 2.1), and most significantly work (33.2 vs. 8.8). Of those working preinjury, only 49% had returned by 6 months. SIP scores were highest for persons with three or more fractures to the same extremity and for fracture patterns typical of high-energy forces.

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