A retrospective cohort investigation of active range of motion within one week of open reduction and internal fixation of distal radius fractures

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Distal radius fractures stabilized by open reduction internal fixation (ORIF) have become increasingly common. There is currently no consensus on the optimal time to commence range of motion (ROM) exercises post-ORIF.

A retrospective cohort review was conducted over a five-year period to compare wrist and forearm range of motion outcomes and number of therapy sessions between patients who commenced active ROM exercises within the first seven days and from day eight onward following ORIF of distal radius fractures.

One hundred and twenty-one patient cases were identified. Clinical data, active ROM at initial and discharge therapy assessments, fracture type, surgical approaches, and number of therapy sessions attended were recorded.

One hundred and seven (88.4%) cases had complete datasets. The early active ROM group (n = 37) commenced ROM a mean (SD) of 4.27 (1.8) days post-ORIF. The comparator group (n = 70) commenced ROM exercises 24.3 (13.6) days post-ORIF. No significant differences were identified between groups in ROM at initial or discharge assessments, or therapy sessions attended. The results from this study indicate that patients who commenced active ROM exercises an average of 24 days after surgery achieved comparable ROM outcomes with similar number of therapy sessions to those who commenced ROM exercises within the first week.

Level of evidence: 2B, retrospective cohort.

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