The addition of aquatic therapy to rehabilitation following surgical rotator cuff repair: A feasibility study

B. Brady*, J. Redfern, G. Macdougal, J. Williams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background and Purpose:
Rotator cuff tears are frequently encountered in medical outpatient settings and often require surgical repair to achieve desirable functional outcomes. However, the optimal form of post-operative rehabilitation of rotator cuff repairs remains unidentified by the research literature. The aim of this study was to determine the feasibility of implementing and investigating the effect of a combined aquatic and land-based rehabilitation programme in the post-operative rehabilitation of rotator cuff tears.

Methods:
A cohort of 18 subjects undergoing rotator cuff repair were examined over a treatment period of 12 weeks. Twelve subjects participated in a combined aquatic and land-based programme, while six subjects received a standard land-based protocol. Passive range of motion and the Western Ontario Rotator Cuff Index outcomes were measured pre-operatively and at three, six and 12 weeks, post-operatively. Subjective responses on patient's assurance and confidence in the value of the exercises (questionnaire using an 11-point Visual Analogue Scale (VAS)) were collected at 12 weeks for both groups.

Results:
There was a significant improvement in both range of motion and Western Ontario Rotator Cuff scores in all subjects with treatment (p < 0.001). Furthermore, participation in aquatic therapy significantly improved passive flexion range of motion measures at three weeks (mean 46°, 95% CI 17–75, p = 0.005) and six weeks (30°, 95% CI 8–51, p = 0.01). There was no significant difference in the attendance rates (80% in both groups) or patients perceptions of the programmes (100% confidence and assurance in both groups).

Conclusion:
The implementation of a combined aquatic and land-based physiotherapy programme following surgical repair of the rotator cuff is feasible and presents a potential viable alternative to conventional land-based exercise with comparable outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-161
Number of pages8
JournalPhysiotherapy Research International
Volume13
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2008
Externally publishedYes

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