COMplex Fracture Orthopedic Rehabilitation (COMFORT) - Real-time visual biofeedback on weight bearing versus standard training methods in the treatment of proximal femur fractures in the elderly: study protocol for a multicenter randomized controlled trial

Marco Raaben*, Syaiful Redzwan, Robin Augustine, Taco Johan Blokhuis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Web of Science)


BACKGROUND: Proximal femur fractures are a common injury after low energy trauma in the elderly. Most rehabilitation programs are based on restoring mobility and early resumption of weight-bearing. However, therapy compliance is low in patients following lower extremity fractures. Moreover, little is known about the relevance of gait parameters and how to steer the rehabilitation after proximal femur fractures in the elderly. Therefore, the aim of this prospective, randomized controlled trial is to gain insight in gait parameters and evaluate if real-time visual biofeedback can improve therapy compliance after proximal femur fractures in the elderly.

METHODS: This is a two-arm, parallel-design, prospective, randomized controlled trial. Inclusion criteria are age ≥ 60 years, a proximal femur fracture following low energy trauma, and unrestricted-weight bearing. Exclusion criteria are cognitive impairment and limited mobility before trauma. Participants are randomized into either the control group, which receives care as usual, or the intervention group, which receives real-time visual biofeedback about weight-bearing during gait in addition to care as usual. Spatiotemporal gait parameters will be measured in 94 participants per group during a 30-m walk with an ambulatory biofeedback system (SensiStep). The progress of rehabilitation will be evaluated by the primary outcome parameters maximum peak load and step duration in relation to the discharge date. Secondary outcome parameters include other spatiotemporal gait parameters in relation to discharge date. Furthermore, the gait parameters will be related to three validated clinical tests: Elderly Mobility Scale; Functional Ambulation Categories; and Visual Analogue Scale. The primary hypothesis is that participants in the intervention group will show improved and faster rehabilitation compared to the control group.

DISCUSSION: The first aim of this multicenter trial is to investigate the normal gait patterns after proximal femur fractures in the elderly. The use of biofeedback systems during rehabilitation after proximal femur fractures in the elderly is promising; therefore, the second aim is to investigate the effect of real-time visual biofeedback on gait after proximal femur fractures in the elderly. This could lead to improved outcome. In addition, analysis of the population may indicate characteristics of subgroups that benefit from feedback, making a differentiated approach in rehabilitation strategy possible.

TRIAL REGISTRATION:, NTR6794 . Registered on 31 October 2017.

Original languageEnglish
Article number220
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2018


  • Proximal femur fracture
  • Weight-bearing
  • Biofeedback
  • Gait analysis
  • SensiStep
  • Fracture rehabilitation

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