Prospective Randomized Trial of Continuous Passive Motion Versus Physical Therapy after Arthroscopic Release of Elbow Contracture

Shawn W. O'Driscoll, Jorge Rojas Lievano, Mark E. Morrey, Joaquin Sanchez-Sotelo, Dave R. Shukla, Tammy S. Olson, James S. Fitzsimmons, Anthony M. Vaichinger, Maegan N. Shields

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Continuous passive motion (CPM) has been used for decades, but we are not aware of any randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in which CPM has been compared with physical therapy (PT) for rehabilitation following release of elbow contracture.Methods: In this single-blinded, single-center RCT, we randomly assigned patients undergoing arthroscopic release of elbow contracture to a rehabilitation protocol involving either CPM or PT. The primary outcomes were the rate of recovery and the arc of elbow motion (range of motion) at 1 year. The rate of recovery was evaluated by measuring range of motion at 6 weeks and 3 months. The secondary outcomes included other range-of-motion-related outcomes, patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs), flexion strength and endurance, grip strength, and forearm circumference at multiple time points.Results: A total of 24 patients were assigned to receive CPM, and 27 were assigned to receive PT. At 1 year, CPM was superior to PT with regard to the range of motion, with an estimated treatment difference of 9° (95% confidence interval [CI], 3° to 16° ; p = 0.007). Similarly, the use of CPM led to a greater range of motion at 6 weeks and 3 months than PT. The percentage of lost motion recovered at 1 year was higher in the CPM group (51%) than in the PT group (36%) (p = 0.01). The probability of restoring a functional range of motion at 1 year was 62% higher in the CPM group than in the PT group (risk ratio for functional range of motion, 1.62; 95% CI, 1.01 to 2.61; p = 0.04). PROM scores were similar in the 2 groups at all time points, except for a difference in the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons (ASES) elbow function subscale, in favor of CPM, at 6 weeks. The use of CPM decreased swelling and reduced the loss of flexion strength, flexion endurance, and grip strength on day 3, with no between-group differences thereafter.Conclusions: Among patients undergoing arthroscopic release of elbow contracture, those who received CPM obtained a faster recovery and a greater range of motion at 1 year, with a higher chance of restoration of functional elbow motion than those who underwent routine PT.Level of Evidence: Therapeutic Level I. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)430-440
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Bone and Joint Surgery
Volume104
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 2 Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes

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