Rotator cuff tears are a frequent cause of shoulder pain that often require arthroscopic repair. After surgery an intense and well-studied rehabilitation protocol is needed to obtain the complete recovery of shoulder function. Fifty patients, who sustained arthroscopic rotator cuff repair for symptomatic, atraumatic and full-thickness supraspinatus tendon tear, were involved. According to our rehabilitation protocol, during the first four postoperative weeks, the arm was supported with an abduction sling pillow, and pendulum exercises, table slide and active elbow extension and flexion were conceded. Outcome measures (Oxford shoulder score (OSS), simple shoulder test (SST), patient-reported satisfaction), shoulder function (range of motion (ROM) and muscle strength), and MRI examination were evaluated. The mean OSS score and SST score increased from 16 to 30.2 and from 5.3 to 11.4, respectively. Patient-reported satisfaction was 96%. At 12 months, patients improved ROM and muscle strength. Postoperative passive anterior elevation was 176; external rotation averaged 47; internal rotation was 90. Postoperative muscle strength during anterior elevation was 8.3 ± 2.2 kg, internal rotation 6.8 ± 3 kg, external rotation 5.5 ± 2.3 kg. Five out of seven patients with recurrent tears evaluated their results as satisfactory. They reported improvements in terms of OSS and SST mean scores despite recurrent tears; therefore, they did not undergo revision surgery. The delayed postoperative physical therapy protocol was associated with improvements in the outcome measures and shoulder function compared to the preoperatory state and rotator cuff healing demonstrated by MRI.
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