To describe and evaluate the concept of early active rehabilitation after tendon transfer to restore grip function in tetraplegia.
Retrospective cohort study.
Two nonprofit rehabilitation units in Sweden and Switzerland.
All patients with tetraplegia who underwent tendon transfer to restore grip ability during 2009 to 2013 (N=49).
Reconstructive tendon transfer surgery with early active rehabilitation to restore grip ability in tetraplegia.
Main Outcome Measures
Grip and pinch strength, grip ability test, and outcome of prioritized activities.
In the 49 surgeries performed, postoperative complications included 2 patients with bleeding and 2 infections related to the surgery. There were no reported ruptures or lengthening of transferred tendons. Within 24 hours after surgery, all 47 patients (100%) with finger flexion reconstruction succeeded to activate their finger flexion. All but 1 patient with reconstructed thumb flexion sucessfully activated their thumb flexion (n=40). Three weeks after surgery, all patients (100%) were able to perform basic activities of daily living, and instrumental activities of daily living were achieved by 74%. One year after surgery, the maximum grip strength in restored finger flexion was on average 6.9kg (range, 1.5–15kg; n=29). The maximum pinch strength in restored thumb flexion was on average 3.7kg (range, 1–20; n=29). On average, grip ability improved from 33 to 101 (n=19) according to the COPM. Prioritized activity limitations, as measured with the COPM, equated to an average of 3.5 steps (2.5 steps preoperatively to 6 steps postoperatively). Patients' perceived satisfaction with this improvement was 4 steps (increasing from 2 steps preoperatively to 6 steps postoperatively).
Grip reconstructive surgery followed by early active rehabilitation can be considered a reliable procedure that leads to substantial improvements in grip and pinch strength and activity performance among patients with tetraplegia.
List of abbreviations:ADL (activities of daily living), BR (brachioradialis), CMC1 (first carpometacarpal joint), COPM (Canadian Occupational Performance Measure), ROM (range of motion)
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Supported by the Swedish Research Council (grant no. 11200), Göteborg University, and Sahlgrenska University Hospital.
Publication of this article was supported by the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine.
© 2016 by the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine