Effects of Different Frequencies of Physical Therapy Visits on Shoulder Function After Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair

Demirci S., KARA D., Yıldız T. İ., Eraslan L., UYSAL Ö., SEVİNÇ C., ...More

Physical therapy, vol.103, no.10, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 103 Issue: 10
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1093/ptj/pzad066
  • Journal Name: Physical therapy
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, Abstracts in Social Gerontology, CINAHL, MEDLINE, SportDiscus
  • Keywords: Cost-Effectiveness, Patient-Reported Outcomes, Postoperative Pain, Postoperative Rehabilitation, Rotator Cuff Repair, Supervised Therapy
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


OBJECTIVE: There is no consensus about the optimal frequency of patient visits during the rehabilitation program after arthroscopic rotator cuff repair (ARCR). This study aimed to investigate the short- and long-term effects of high-frequency (HF) and low-frequency (LF) visits of the patients in the first 12 weeks of rehabilitation after ARCR. METHODS: This was a quasi-randomized study with 2 parallel groups. Forty-seven patients with ARCR were included in 2 different patient visit frequency protocols (HF = 23, LF = 24) in 12 weeks of postoperative rehabilitation. Patients in the HF group visited the clinic twice a week, whereas patients in the LF group visited once every 2 weeks for the first 6 weeks and once a week for the following 6 weeks. Both groups performed the same exercise protocol. Outcome measurements were pain and range of motion measured at baseline; at the 3rd, 5th, 8th, 12th, and 24th weeks; and at 1-year follow-up. Shoulder function was assessed at the 12th and 24th weeks and at 1-year follow-up with an American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons score. RESULTS: There was a significant group × time interaction in pain intensity during the activity between the groups. The activity pain intensity was higher in the LF group (4.2 points) at 8 weeks post surgery than in the HF group (2.7 points) (mean difference: 1.5 points, P < .05), whereas it was similar in both groups at other time periods. The interaction term was not significant between the groups for pain intensity during rest and night through the 1-year follow-up. No group × time interactions were observed in shoulder range of motion and American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons score over the postoperative period. CONCLUSION: Both rehabilitation programs at different visit frequencies after ARCR showed similar clinical results in the long term. A supervised, controlled rehabilitation program with LF visits in the first 12 weeks after surgery can be sufficient to achieve optimal clinical results and reduce rehabilitation-related costs after ARCR. IMPACT: This study highlights that LF treatment protocols under the supervision of the therapist can be adopted after the arthroscopic rotator cuff repair to achieve successful results while decreasing the treatment costs. Physical therapists should plan the treatment sessions efficiently for the compliance of the patients to the exercise treatment. LAY SUMMARY: If you are a patient with arthroscopic rotator cuff repair, a supervised, controlled rehabilitation program with low-frequency visits in the first 12 weeks after surgery could help you achieve the best outcome and help lower the costs of rehabilitation. A total of 3 visits in the first 6 weeks might be sufficient (once every 2 weeks). More frequent visits (1-2 visits a week) should happen 6 to 12 weeks after the surgery.