Active physical therapy does not improve outcomes after reverse total shoulder arthroplasty: a multi-center, randomized clinical trial

Peter N. Chalmers, Robert Z. Tashjian, Jay D. Keener, Julianne A. Sefko, Adrik Da Silva, Caellagh Morrissey, Angela P. Presson, Chong Zhang, Aaron M. Chamberlain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: To compare range of motion (ROM) and patient-reported outcomes (PROs) between a structured home exercise program (HEP) and active, supervised physiotherapy (PT) after primary Reverse total shoulder arthroplasty (RTSA) by performing a multicenter randomized clinical trial. Methods: Patients undergoing primary RTSA at 2 centers were randomized to either a HEP group, in which they were given a handout and a rope pulley, or a PT group, in which they were given a standardized prescription. Surgical technique and implants were standardized. At baseline, 6 weeks, 3 months, and 1 year postoperatively, we obtained American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons scores, Western Ontario Osteoarthritis Scores, visual analogue scale for pain scores, and measured ROM via videotape. On video, ROM was then measured by blinded observers. At all study visits, patients were asked how many days per week they were in PT and how many days a week they completed HEP to determine compliance and crossover. An a priori power analysis suggested 29 patients per group, 56 patients total to detect a difference of 30° in active forward elevation with a power of 0.8 at a 2-sided alpha of 0.05. Results: 89 patients were randomized, 43 to PT, and 46 to HEP. We obtained 1-year PRO follow-up on 83 patients (93%) and ROM follow-up on 73 patients (82%). Nine patients (20%) crossed over from HEP to PT and 2 patients (4%) crossed over from PT to HEP. Complications occurred in 13% of HEP and 17% of PT patients (P = .629). Using mixed models that account for baseline values, there were no significant differences between groups in PROs or ROM at final follow-up. Conclusion: In this 2-center, randomized clinical trial, there were no significant differences in patient outcomes or ROM between HEP and PT after RTSA. These findings suggest that it may not be necessary to recommend PT as a protocol for all patients after RTSA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)760-770
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • Level I
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Reverse total shoulder arthroplasty
  • Treatment Study
  • osteoarthritis
  • physical therapy. home exercise program
  • randomized
  • rotator cuff tear


Dive into the research topics of 'Active physical therapy does not improve outcomes after reverse total shoulder arthroplasty: a multi-center, randomized clinical trial'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this