Jan 29, 2015Home Rehab For Rotator Cuffs
A recent study shows that home-based rotator cuff exercise is as effective as outpatient therapy. A quality home-based program also provides additional health-related quality of life benefits not seen in outpatient therapy.
A rotator cuff tear is a common cause of pain and disability among adults. It weakens the shoulder making many simple daily activities like dressing or bathing difficult and painful. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons1, close to two million people in the United States sought medical treatment in 2008 because of a rotator cuff problem. Their research also shows that the incidence of rotator cuff damage increases with age suggesting that as the current population ages there will be an increase need for rotator cuff therapy.
While minor or partial tears generally heal with rehabilitation, full-thickness tears or complete tears (soft tissue is split into two pieces) often require surgical repair. However, some patients with complete rotator cuff tears have been successfully treated with physical or occupational therapy instead of surgery, thus likely reducing their healthcare costs and surgical risks. Recently researchers in Germany, looking to further reduce treatment costs, studied the effectiveness of home-based exercises to supervised therapy.2
Their findings, published in the Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery, showed that 66% of patients in both the home exercise and outpatient therapy groups improved their clinical test of shoulder impingement. Both groups also improved in pain, range of motion, strength and function; there was no significant difference between groups. However, the home-based group significantly increased their health-related quality of life compared to supervised therapy. The psychological improvements of the home-based group were an unexpected finding of the researchers. They stated, “Patients obviously benefitted from the more active and self-reliant approach, which was in contrast to the more passive outpatient therapy.”
The study involved 38 patients with full-thickness rotator cuff tears. The patients were randomly assigned to either formal outpatient therapy (three times a week for eight weeks) or a daily home exercise program using TheraBand elastic resistance bands. After formal instruction, the home-based patients completed 30 minutes of exercise in the morning and in the afternoon. Exercises were provided in an exercise guide booklet. Download the Rotator Cuff Tear Home Exercise Protocol here.
In conclusion, a home-based exercise program with TheraBand resistance bands twice a day is comparable to formal therapy in the conservative management of rotator cuff tears, particularly those without much atrophy or retraction. The researchers stated, “Our results emphasize the simple but effective use of resistance bands.”
About the Academy
The TheraBand® Academy was formed to scientifically document the benefits of resistance exercise and pain relief, guide the company in its development of new products and exercise programs, and to promote therapeutic exercise and pain management through professional and consumer education. The Academy website is a unique resource that connects healthcare professionals and consumers to the ever growing body of knowledge on exercise. Registration is free and provides access to the largest database of rehab exercises, protocols, research and education in the world.
About TheraBand Professional Resistance Bands
Pioneered more than 30 years ago, TheraBand products are the original System of Progressive Exercise. As each level in a rehabilitation or strengthening program is mastered, patients can increase resistance and the degree of challenge accordingly. TheraBand Professional Resistance Bands are ideal for upper-body exercise, conditioning and rehabilitations. Available in multiple color-coded levels of resistance and in a latex-free formulation option.
About Performance Health
Featuring leading brands like Biofreeze, TheraBand, Cramer, Prossage and Pedigenix, Performance Health offers a broad portfolio of products for the therapy, rehabilitation, wellness, massage, sports medicine, performance and podiatric markets. In addition to market-leading products, Performance Health provides practice building support, evidence-based protocols, clinical and product education, turn-key dispensing and pain management solutions.
1. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, OrthoInfo; Rotator Cuff Tears
2. KJrischak et al. A prospective randomized controlled trial comparing occupational therapy with home-based exercises in conservative treatment of rotator cuff tears. J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2013 Sep;22(9):1173-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jse.2013.01.008. Epub 2013 Mar 22.