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Early functional rehabilitation compared with traditional immobilization for acute Achilles tendon ruptures: a meta-analysis
Liu X, Dai T-J, Li B-L, Li C, Zheng Z-Y, Liu Y
The Bone & Joint Journal 2021 Jun;103-B(6):1021-1030
systematic review

AIMS: The aim of this meta-analysis was to assess the prognosis after early functional rehabilitation or traditional immobilization in patients who underwent operative or nonoperative treatment for rupture of the Achilles tendon. METHODS: PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, and Cochrane Library were searched for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) from their inception to 3 June 2020, using keywords related to rupture of the Achilles tendon and rehabilitation. Data extraction was undertaken by independent reviewers and subgroup analyses were performed based on the form of treatment. Risk ratios (RRs) and weighted mean differences (WMDs) (with 95% confidence intervals (CIs)) were used as summary association measures. RESULTS: We included 19 trials with a total of 1,758 patients. There was no difference between the re-rupture rate (RR 0.84 (95% CI 0.56 to 1.28); p = 0.423), time to return to work (WMD -1.29 (95% CI -2.63 to 0.05); p = 0.060), and sporting activity (WMD -1.50 (95% CI -4.36 to 1.37); p = 0.306) between the early functional rehabilitation and the traditional immobilization treatment strategies. Early rehabilitation up to 12 weeks yielded significantly better Achilles tendon Total Rupture Scores ((ATRS) WMD 5.11 (95% CI 2.10 to 8.12); p < 0.001). Patients who underwent functional rehabilitation had significantly lower limb symmetry index of heel-rise work ((HRW) WMD -4.19 (95% CI -8.20 to 0.17); p = 0.041) at one year. CONCLUSION: Early functional rehabilitation is safe and provides better early function and the same functional outcome in the longer term.

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