Finger flexor tendon rehabilitation has come a long way, but further advances are possible. Ideally, a healing tendon should move, but under the minimum load necessary to achieve motion. It is possible to design suture repairs that minimize the friction between tendon and sheath while simultaneously maintaining adequate strength to provide a wide margin of safety during therapy. A looped, four-strand modified Kessler repair is a good example of this type of high-strength, low-friction repair. At the same time, rehabilitation methods can also be optimized. A new modified synergistic motion protocol is described in which wrist flexion and finger extension is alternated with wrist and metacarpophalangeal joint extension and finger interphalangeal joint flexion. Based on evidence from basic science studies, the authors hypothesize that this new protocol will deliver more effective proximal tension on the tendon repair than either passive flexion/active extension or synergistic protocols, and may be useful in patients who are not ready for, or are not reliable with, active motion or place and hold protocols. The scientific basis for these new methods is reviewed, and the concept of the "safe zone" for tendon loading, in which tendon motion occurs without gapping of the repair site, is developed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation