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September 2018 Article Exchange with JOSPT

jospt_article_exchange_logo1In 2015, JBJS launched an “article exchange” collaboration with the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy (JOSPT) to support multidisciplinary integration, continuity of care, and excellent patient outcomes in orthopaedics and sports medicine.

During the month of September 2018, JBJS and OrthoBuzz readers will have open access to the JOSPT article titled “Hand-Grip Strength: Normative Reference Values and Equations for Individuals 18 to 85 Years of Age Residing in the United States.”

Hand-grip strength is an indicator of overall strength and a predictor of important outcomes. The normative reference values provided in this study may serve as a guide for interpreting grip-strength measurements obtained from tested individuals.

Immobilization after Fixation of Distal Radial Fractures

short arm castOrthoBuzz occasionally receives posts from guest bloggers. This guest post comes from Matthew Herring, MD, in response to a recent study in JBJS.

Postoperative immobilization after internal fixation of fractures is common practice. However, immobilization after locked volar plate fixation of distal radial fractures may actually thwart our patients’ rehabilitation—at least in the short term. So suggest the findings from Watson et al. in the July 5, 2018 issue of JBJS.

The authors randomized 133 patients who underwent locked volar plate fixation of distal radial fractures to 1, 3, or 6 weeks of postoperative immobilization. All patients were placed into volar splints postoperatively. After 1 week, splints were removed entirely or converted to short-arm circumferential casts based on the patient’s allocation. All patients started physical therapy within 3 days of definitive splint or cast removal.

Outcomes were evaluated at 6, 12, and 26 weeks and included patient-reported measures (PRWE, VAS pain scores, and DASH), active wrist range of motion, and postoperative complications. Six weeks following surgery, the results favored 1 or 3 weeks of immobilization over 6 weeks of casting in terms of improved patient-reported outcomes and objective wrist range of motion. However, those between-group differences disappeared at 12 and 26 weeks of follow-up. No significant differences were found in complication rates between the 3 groups.

For me, the primary message of this article is that early mobilization after distal radial fracture fixation offers improved short-term outcomes with little or no risk of adverse effects. For most patients, a major goal of fracture treatment is to restore normal function as quickly as possible. With early mobilization, patients reported less pain and less disability, and they demonstrated greater range of motion at 6 weeks.

However, the quick restoration of function must be done safely and without complications. In this cohort, 6 patients lost fracture reduction—5 in the 1-week immobilization group and 1 in the 6-week group. While that difference was not statistically significant, the study was not sufficiently powered to detect that difference. A quick power analysis, assuming an anticipated 11% loss-of-reduction rate as seen in the 1-week group and a 2% rate as seen in the 6-week group, estimates that 234 patients would be needed to confidently avoid a type II error when analyzing loss of reduction.

Translating findings like these into practice constitutes the art of medicine. It is probably safe, and perhaps even beneficial, to allow early mobilization of distal radial fractures treated with volar locking plates. However, there is probably a subset of patients who are at risk for losing reduction, and therefore it may be prudent to have a low threshold for keeping certain patients casted for a longer duration. The orthopaedist who extends cast immobilization beyond 3 weeks can take comfort in the findings that reported outcomes and range of motion in the 6-week-immobilization group quickly caught up with the results of the early-mobilization cohorts by 12 weeks after surgery.

Matthew Herring, MD is a fellow in orthopaedic trauma at the University of California, San Francisco and a member of the JBJS Social Media Advisory Board.

Orthopaedic Surgeons Hate Fixation Failures

IM Nail for Hip Fx for OBuzzFew things are more disheartening to an orthopaedic surgeon than taking a patient back into the operating suite to treat a failure of fixation. In part, that’s because we realize that the chances of obtaining stable fixation, especially in elderly patients with poor bone density, are diminished with the second attempt. We are additionally cognizant of the risks (again, most significant in the elderly) to cardiopulmonary function with a second procedure shortly after the initial one.

These concerns have led us historically to instruct patients to limit weight bearing for 4 to 6 weeks after hip-fracture surgery. On the other hand, we have seen evidence in cohort studies to suggest that instructing elderly patients with proximal femur fractures to bear weight “as tolerated” after surgery is safe and does not increase the risk of fixation failure.

In the June 6, 2018 issue of The Journal, Kammerlander et al. demonstrate that 16 cognitively unimpaired elderly patients with a proximal femur fracture were unable to limit postoperative weight bearing to ≤20 kg on their surgically treated limb—despite 5 training sessions with a physiotherapist focused on how to do so. In fact, during gait analysis, 69% of these elderly patients exceeded the specified load by more than twofold, as measured with insole force sensors. This inability to restrict weight bearing is probably related to balance and lower-extremity strength issues in older patients, but it may be challenging for people of any age to estimate and regulate how much weight they are placing on an injured lower limb.

With this and other recent evidence, we should instruct most elderly patients with these injuries to bear weight as comfort allows and prescribe correspondingly active physical therapy. As surgeons, we should focus our efforts on the quality and precision of fracture reduction and placement of surgical implants. This will lead to higher patient, family, and physical-therapist satisfaction and pave the way for a more active postoperative rehabilitation period and better longer-term outcomes.

Marc Swiontkowski, MD
JBJS Editor-in-Chief

February 2018 Article Exchange with JOSPT

JOSPT_Article_Exchange_LogoIn 2015, JBJS launched an “article exchange” collaboration with the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy (JOSPT) to support multidisciplinary integration, continuity of care, and excellent patient outcomes in orthopaedics and sports medicine.

During the month of February 2018, JBJS and OrthoBuzz readers will have open access to the JOSPT article titled “The Influence of Patient Choice of First Provider on Costs and Outcomes: Analysis From a Physical Therapy Patient Registry.”

The authors of this economic and decision analysis tackle a controversial topic: whether giving patients with neck and back pain direct access to physical therapy, without a medical referral, leads to lower costs of care. They also compare clinical outcomes in the medical-referral and direct-access groups.

What’s New in Orthopaedic Rehabilitation 2017

Specialty Update Image for OBuzzEvery month, JBJS publishes a Specialty Update—a review of the most pertinent and impactful studies published in the orthopaedic literature during the previous year in 13 subspecialties. Click here for a collection of all OrthoBuzz Specialty Update summaries.

This month, Nitin Jain, MD, MSPH, a co-author of the November 15, 2017 Specialty Update on Orthopaedic Rehabilitation, summarized the most clinically compelling findings from among the nearly 50 noteworthy studies summarized in the article.

Pain Management
–Results from a retrospective review1 of patients with noncancer pain highlighted that the risks of long-acting opioids extend beyond overdose, and include increased risks of cardiovascular death and all-cause mortality.

–A randomized prospective trial2 comparing celecoxib, ibuprofen, and naproxen for treating arthritis pain found no significant difference in the hazard ratios for those medications as related to risk of cardiovascular events.

Cost & Quality
–An assessment of a value-improvement initiative3 that examined hip and knee arthroplasty and hip fracture outcomes in a large regional health-care system found reduced costs and improvements in quality of care from 2012 to 2016.

Concussion
–A literature review4 of 7 studies determined that the long-term cognitive and neurogenerative effects of multiple concussions in patients ≤17 years of age remain inconclusive.

Spine
–A randomized trial5 found no difference between anesthetic-only and anesthetic-plus-steroid epidural injections in the treatment of lumbar spinal stenosis.

Shoulder
–A prospective cohort study6 by the MOON Shoulder Group found that the strongest predictor of failure of nonoperative treatment for symptomatic atraumatic rotator cuff tears was lower patient expectations that such treatment would be successful. Pain level, duration of symptoms, and tear anatomy did not predict treatment failure.

References

  1. Ray WA, Chung CP, Murray KT, Hall K, Stein CM. Prescription of long-acting opioids and mortality in patients with chronic noncancer pain. JAMA. 2016 Jun 14;315(22):2415-23.
  2. Nissen SE, Yeomans ND, Solomon DH, Lüscher TF, Libby P, Husni ME,Graham DY, Borer JS, Wisniewski LM, Wolski KE, Wang Q, Menon V,Ruschitzka F, Gaffney M, Beckerman B, Berger MF, Bao W, Lincoff AM; PRECISION Trial Investigators. Cardiovascular safety of celecoxib, naproxen, or ibuprofen for arthritis. N Engl J Med. 2016 Dec 29;375(26):2519-29. Epub 2016 Nov 13.
  3. Lee VS, Kawamoto K, Hess R, Park C, Young J, Hunter C, Johnson S,Gulbransen S, Pelt CE, Horton DJ, Graves KK, Greene TH, Anzai Y, Pendleton RC. Implementation of a value-driven outcomes program to identify high variability in clinical costs and outcomes and association with reduced cost and improved quality. JAMA. 2016 Sep 13;316(10):1061-72.
  4. Yumul JN, McKinlay A. Do multiple concussions lead to cumulative cognitive deficits? A literature review. PM&R. 2016 Nov;8(11):1097-103. Epub 2016 May 18.
  5. Friedly JL, Comstock BA, Turner JA, Heagerty PJ, Deyo RA, Sullivan SD,Bauer Z, Bresnahan BW, Avins AL, Nedeljkovic SS, Nerenz DR, Standaert C,Kessler L, Akuthota V, Annaswamy T, Chen A, Diehn F, Firtch W, Gerges FJ,Gilligan C, Goldberg H, Kennedy DJ, Mandel S, Tyburski M, Sanders W, Sibell D, Smuck M, Wasan A, Won L, Jarvik JG. A randomized trial of epidural glucocorticoid injections for spinal stenosis. N Engl J Med. 2014 Jul 03;371(1):11-21.
  6. Dunn WR, Kuhn JE, Sanders R, An Q, Baumgarten KM, Bishop JY, Brophy RH,Carey JL, Harrell F, Holloway BG, Jones GL, Ma CB, Marx RG, McCarty EC,Poddar SK, Smith MV, Spencer EE, Vidal AF, Wolf BR, Wright RW; MOON Shoulder Group. 2013 Neer Award: predictors of failure of nonoperative treatment of chronic, symptomatic, full-thickness rotator cuff tears. J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2016 Aug;25(8):1303-11.

December 2017 Article Exchange with JOSPT

JOSPT_Article_Exchange_LogoIn 2015, JBJS launched an “article exchange” collaboration with the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy (JOSPT) to support multidisciplinary integration, continuity of care, and excellent patient outcomes in orthopaedics and sports medicine.

During the month of December 2017, JBJS and OrthoBuzz readers will have open access to the JOSPT article titled “Hip Abductor Muscle Volume and Strength Differences Between Women With Chronic Hip Joint Pain and Asymptomatic Controls.

This cross-sectional study demonstrated that women with chronic hip joint pain had larger gluteal muscle volume but decreased hip abductor strength, compared to asymptomatic controls.

After Achilles Repair, Musculotendinous Strength Remains a Big Challenge

Calf MRI for OBuzzAmid ongoing uncertainty regarding the optimum management of Achilles tendon ruptures, recent controlled trials seem to have moved the pendulum back toward nonsurgical treatment. Still, there are many people walking around on surgically repaired Achilles tendons, and in the September 20, 2017 issue of The Journal, Heikkinen et al. report on the 13+-year outcomes of operative repair followed by early functional postoperative management in 52 patients.

All orthopaedic surgeons who have treated patients with this tendon injury have noted the postoperative calf atrophy. Using carefully analyzed MRI studies, these authors found that the mean volumes of the soleus, medial gastrocnemius, and lateral gastrocnemius muscles were 13%, 13%, and 11% lower, respectively, in the affected legs than in the uninjured legs. The mean 6% elongation of the repaired tendon that Heikkinen et al. also found at this long-term follow-up makes sense, because we are repairing tendinous tissue whose inherent collagen bundle structure has been “overstretched” prior to total failure. It also makes sense that surgeons are often hesitant to shorten the ends of the tendon aggressively for fear of placing too great a tensile strain on the suture repair.

What is most impressive to me is the degree of calf-muscle atrophy revealed in these results. Whether the findings from future trials tilt us further toward nonoperative or back toward operative care, we need to solve the muscle atrophy issue. The solution will most likely come from even more aggressive rehabilitation. To date, many of us have erred on the side of not pushing these patients too far during rehab, out of concern for failure of repair or reinjury.

With solid surgical and nonsurgical treatments for fractures, we have solved many issues to achieve optimum bone healing with good anatomic and strength outcomes. However, we have not really begun to make gains on limiting muscle, ligament, and tendon atrophy in lower extremity injuries. This should be high on the agenda for the trauma research community during the next 2 to 3 decades.

Marc Swiontkowski, MD
JBJS Editor-in-Chief

September 2017 Article Exchange with JOSPT

JOSPT_Article_Exchange_LogoIn 2015, JBJS launched an “article exchange” collaboration with the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy (JOSPT) to support multidisciplinary integration, continuity of care, and excellent patient outcomes in orthopaedics and sports medicine.

During the month of September 2017, JBJS and OrthoBuzz readers will have open access to the JOSPT article titled “Assessment of Psychometric Properties of Various Balance Assessment Tools in Persons With Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy.

This cross-sectional study concluded that a brief version of the Balance Evaluation Systems Test (BESTest) is the most-preferred tool for assessing balance among patients with cervical spondylotic myelopathy.

After THA, Self-Directed Home Exercise Yielded Same Benefits as Formal PT

THA3 for OBuzz.jpegAn estimated 40% of total costs from a total hip arthroplasty (THA) episode are accrued from post-discharge services.  With that in mind, Austin et al. embarked on a randomized controlled trial comparing outcomes among two groups of primary THA patients: those who followed a 10-week self-directed home exercise regimen (n=54) and those who received a combination of in-home and outpatient physical therapy (PT) for 10 weeks (n=54). The results were published in the April 19, 2017 edition of The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.

At 1 month and 6 to 12 months after surgery, patients in both groups showed significant preoperative-to-postoperative improvements in function as measured by all administered instruments (Harris Hip Score, WOMAC Index, and SF-36 Physical Health Survey). However, there was no difference in any of the measured functional outcomes between the two groups.

In addition, a total of 30 patients (28%) crossed over between groups: 20 (37%) from the formal physical therapy group and 10 (19%) from the home exercise group.  The 10 patients who crossed over from home exercise to formal PT were not meeting progress goals; they tended to be older and had worse preoperative function than those in that cohort who did not cross over.

So, while this study provides evidence that unsupervised home exercise can be as effective as a structured rehabilitation program for most patients, the authors say the following patient characteristics might be indications for a referral to formal PT:

  • Older age
  • Poorer preoperative function
  • Severe preoperative gait imbalance
  • Postoperative neurological complications
  • Expectations for quick return to high-level activity

March 2017 Article Exchange with JOSPT

JOSPT_Article_Exchange_Logo.pngIn 2015, JBJS launched an“article exchange” collaboration with the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy (JOSPT) to support multidisciplinary integration, continuity of care, and excellent patient outcomes in orthopaedics and sports medicine.

During the month of March 2017, JBJS and OrthoBuzz readers will have access to the JOSPT article titled “The Effectiveness of Manual Therapy Versus Surgery on Self-reported Function, Cervical Range of Motion, and Pinch Grip Force in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: A Randomized Clinical Trial.”

In that clinical trial of 100 women with carpal tunnel syndrome randomized to receive either manual therapy or endoscopic decompression/release, researchers found that both interventions had similar outcomes in self-reported function and pinch-tip grip force at 3, 6, and 12 months of follow-up. However, at 1 month, there were significant between-group differences in favor of manual therapy. No changes in cervical range of motion were observed after either manual therapy or surgery at any time point.