Investigating the effects of physical therapy timing, intensity and duration on post-traumatic joint contracture in a rat elbow model

A. J. Reiter, R. M. Castile, H. R. Schott, G. J. Kivitz, A. M. Chamberlain, Spencer P. Lake

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background. Post-traumatic joint contracture (PTJC), characterized by loss of motion and permanent stiffness, affects up to 50% of patients following elbow joint dislocation or fracture. Mechanisms governing successful conservative treatment methods aimed at preventing elbow PTJC and avoiding operative treatments (e.g., physical therapy) are poorly understood. Using a previously established rat model of elbow PTJC, the purpose of this study was to explore the effect of varying timing, intensity and duration of active, functional exercise on joint motion outcomes. Methods. Following a surgically-induced unilateral elbow dislocation in rats, injured limbs were immobilized in bandages for 42 days followed by free mobilization for 42 additional days producing long-term PTJC. This work summarizes several studies (Phases I-III) that investigated the effects of early versus delayed therapy (timing), free mobilization versus forced treadmill walking (intensity), and limited-time versus unlimited use (duration) on elbow PTJC. Results. Joint motion outcomes in therapy groups showed no improvements compared to non-treated injured animals when therapy began day 14 post-injury or later regardless of timing, intensity or duration. Improved joint range-of-motion was only achieved when bandages were permanently removed at day 3 post-injury, regardless of whether added treadmill walking was performed. Conclusions. Early motion is essential to preserving range-of-motion following traumatic elbow injury in a rat model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)547-553
Number of pages7
JournalMuscles, Ligaments and Tendons Journal
Volume11
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2021

Keywords

  • Elbow
  • Joint contracture
  • Physical therapy
  • Range-of-motion
  • Rat model
  • Treadmill walking

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