Post-operative rehabilitation after surgical repair of the rotator cuff.

Marco Conti, Raffaele Garofalo, Giacomo Delle Rose, Giuseppe Massazza, Enzo Vinci, Mario Randelli, Alessandro Castagna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Today advances in techniques and materials for rotator cuff surgery allow the repair of a large variety of types or extensions of cuff lesions in patients from a wide range of age groups who have different kinds of jobs and participate in different kinds of sports, and who have widely different expectations in terms of recovery of functions and pain relief. A large number of factors must be taken into account before implementing a rehabilitation protocol after rotator cuff surgery. These mainly include the technique (materials and procedure) used by the surgeon. Moreover, tissue quality, retraction, fatty infiltration and time from rupture are important biological factors while the patient's work or sport or daily activities after surgery and expectations of recovery must also be assessed. A rehabilitation protocol should also take into account the timing of biological healing of bone to tendon or tendon to tendon interface, depending on the type of rupture and repair. This timing should direct the therapist's choice of correct passive or assisted exercise and mobilisation manoeuvres and the teaching of correct active mobilisation movements the patient has to do. Following accepted knowledge about the time of biological tissue healing, surgical technique and focused rehabilitation exercise, a conceptual protocol in four phases could be applied, tailoring the protocol for each patient. It starts with sling rest with passive small self-assisted arm motion in phase one, to prevent post-op stiffness. In phase two passive mobilisation by the patient dry or in water, integrated with scapular mobilisation and stabiliser reinforcement, are done. Phase three consists of progressive active arm mobilisation dry or in water integrated with proprioceptive exercise and "core" stabilisation. In phase four full strength recovery integrated with the recovery of work or sports movements will complete the protocol. Because of the multi-factorial aspects of the problem, the best results can be obtained through a full transfer of information from the surgeon to the therapist to optimise timing and sizing of the individual rehabilitation protocol for each patient.

Original languageEnglish
JournalLa Chirurgia degli organi di movimento
Volume93 Suppl 1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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