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Aust J Physiother. 2004;50(2):77-83.

A randomised clinical trial evaluating the efficacy of physiotherapy after rotator cuff repair.

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St George Hospital, University of New South Wales, Australia.


The optimal form of rehabilitation after rotator cuff repair has yet to be determined. A randomised clinical trial was undertaken to compare outcomes for two forms of rehabilitation for this condition: individualised supervised physiotherapy treatment, and a standardised unsupervised home exercise regime. Fifty-eight volunteers with all sizes of operatively repaired rotator cuff tears were allocated randomly to one of the two treatment groups. All subjects received a standardised home exercise regime. Subjects who were randomised to the physiotherapy group received additional individualised treatment. Independent, blinded assessments of range of motion, muscle force and functional outcome measures were performed pre-operatively, and at six, 12 and 24 weeks postoperation. At six, 12 and 24 weeks post-operation, comparable outcomes were demonstrated for both rehabilitation groups. By 24 weeks post-operation, most subjects demonstrated outcomes that were consistent with a favourable recovery, regardless of rehabilitation mode. On the basis of these results, outcomes for subjects allocated to individualised physiotherapy treatment after rotator cuff repair are no better than for subjects allocated to a standardised home exercise regime.

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