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Acute and Long-Term Effects of Mechanotherapy on the Outcome After an Achilles Repair: A Prospective Cohort Study With Historical Controls

      Abstract

      Objectives

      To evaluate the effects of vibration on Achilles’ tendon microcirculation and characteristics following surgical repair of Achilles’ tendon rupture.

      Design

      Cohort study with historical controls.

      Setting

      A university institute.

      Participants

      Participants (N=32), including 19 (16 men, 3 women; median [range] age: 43.0 [25.0-57.0] years) and 13 (10 men, 3 women; 44.00 [29.0-60.0] years) in the vibration (application to the ball of the foot, 30Hz, 2mm amplitude, 4kg pressure, and self-administration) and control groups, respectively, who underwent unilateral Achilles’ tendon repairs were recruited.

      Intervention

      A 4-week vibration intervention in the vibration group.

      Main Outcome Measurements

      The tendon microcirculation was measured after the first session of vibration. The participants were evaluated repeatedly with bilateral follow-up measurements of tendon stiffness, 3 functional outcome tests, and a questionnaire survey.

      Results

      Acute effects of the vibration were observed immediately after the 5-minute vibration (P≤.001). Lower total hemoglobin and oxygen saturation were respectively observed (P=.043) in the repaired legs 3 and 6 months postsurgery in the vibration group as compared with the control group. The vibration group also showed greater tendon stiffness, heel raising height and hopping distance 3 or 6 months postoperation in both the repaired and noninjured legs (all P<.05). The microcirculatory characteristics 2 months postoperation were correlated with the outcomes at 6 months postoperation.

      Conclusions

      Differences in microcirculatory characteristics and better rehabilitation outcomes were observed in the legs with an Achilles repair that underwent the early vibration intervention.

      Keywords

      List of abbreviations:

      IPC (intermittent pneumatic compression), StO2 (oxygen saturation), THb (total hemoglobin)
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