A Systematic Review of Electromyography Studies in Normal Shoulders to Inform Postoperative Rehabilitation Following Rotator Cuff Repair

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Abstract

STUDY DESIGN:

Systematic review.

BACKGROUND:

Electromyography (EMG) has previously been used to guide postoperative rehabilitation progression following rotator cuff repair to prevent deleterious loading of early surgical repair.

OBJECTIVE:

To review the current literature investigating EMG during rehabilitation exercises in normal shoulders, and to identify exercises that meet a cut point of 15% maximal voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC) or less and are unlikely to result in excessive loading in the early postoperative stages.

METHODS:

An electronic search of MEDLINE via Ovid, Embase, CINAHL, SPORTDiscus, PubMed, and the Cochrane Library for all years up to June 2016 was performed. Studies were selected in relation to predefined selection criteria. Pooled mean MVICs were reported and classified as low (0%-15% MVIC), low to moderate (16%-20% MVIC), moderate (21%-40% MVIC), high (41%-60% MVIC), and very high (greater than 60% MVIC).

RESULTS:

A search identified 2159 studies. After applying the selection criteria, 20 studies were included for quality assessment, data extraction, and data synthesis. In total, 43 exercises spanning passive range of motion, active-assisted range of motion, and strengthening exercises were evaluated. Out of 13 active-assisted exercises, 9 were identified as suitable (15% MVIC or less) to load the supraspinatus and 10 as suitable to load the infraspinatus early after surgery. All exercises were placed in a theoretical-continuum model, by which general recommendations could be made for prescription in patients post rotator cuff repair.

CONCLUSION:

This review identified passive and active-assisted exercises that may be appropriate in the early stages after rotator cuff repair.

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