Shoulder Rehabilitation Protocol: Rotator Cuff Repair

Phase 1: 0-2 weeks

Day 1

    • Wound care as outlined on the Shoulder Arthroscopy Rehabilitation page
    • An abduction splint (which holds the arm away from the body) will be applied before you wake up from the operation.
    • Do not remove this splint on day one
    • Do not attempt to lift the arm off the splint
    • You will need assistance to hold the arm for washing etc. The splint can be replaced by a large rolled up towel under the armpit for showering. Do not actively lift the arm up to position the towel
    • Do not attempt any antigravity exercise until 4 weeks
    • Do not remove the splint until instructed to do so

Day 2

  • Start gentle exercises. To start with do them lying down. As you get better at them you may try them sitting. You must keep the arm out to the side as if it was in the splint. It is possible to leave the wedge in place to help you do this.
  • Use the good arm to raise the operated arm above head height as far as comfort allows. Gently lower the arm again so that it is supported by the splint. Repeat 10 times, 3 times a day
  • This exercise is usually easier sitting up. Keep the wedge in place and the elbow tucked firmly into the splint. Use the good arm and a stick to push the operated hand away from the body. Repeat 10 times 3 times a day
  • The purpose of these exercises is to stop the shoulder from becoming too stiff.
  • If you cannot manage these do not worry as formal rehabilitation will start at week 4 when the sling is removed.

Phase 2: 4-8 weeks

  • You will be seen in the clinic at 3 weeks
  • You may remove the sling/splint at 4 weeks
  • The full range of motion exercises as outlined on Physio instruction pages 1 & 2 can be started
  • Antigravity exercises may start once good range of motion and shoulder control is obtained
  • You will need a physiotherapist to help you at this stage
  • You will be seen in the clinic at 8-12 weeks

Phase 3: 12+ weeks

  • You will be seen in clinic and the shoulder function assessed at 12 weeks
  • If good anti-gravity control has been obtained resistance exercises may start

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