The purpose of this study was to compare the short-term outcome following flexor tendon repair for postoperative rehabilitation commencing on day 1 (a common clinical choice) versus day 5 (the day on which, with postoperative immobilization, the initial gliding resistance is least in this model) in an in vivo canine model. Work of flexion (WOF) and tendon strength were evaluated following tendon laceration and repair in 24 dogs sacrificed 10 days postoperatively. Starting postoperative mobilization at day 5 resulted in no tendon ruptures compared with tendon ruptures in four of the dogs (33%) in the group subjected to mobilization starting at day 1. While there was no statistically significant difference in WOF between groups at day 10, there was a trend toward lower resistance favoring the day 5 start group, and the statistical power to detect a difference in WOF was diminished by the ruptures in the day 1 group. We conclude that starting rehabilitation on day 5, when initial gliding resistance is lower, may have an advantage over earlier starting times, when surgical edema and other factors increase the initial force requirements to initiate tendon gliding. We plan further studies to evaluate the longer-term benefits of this rehabilitation program.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation