Background: The aim of the study was to assess the effectiveness of 15 weeks of physical therapy on biplanar ankle mobility, gait and pain level in patients following operative repair of the Achilles tendon.
Material and methods: The study enrolled two groups of patients; a group of men (n=40) after operative repair of the Achilles tendon, who underwent 15 weeks of postoperative physiotherapy (Group I) and a group of men (n=40) without Achilles tendon injury (Group II). The ranges of motion for supination, pronation, plantar and dorsiflexion of the foot were measured in both groups. The ankle and shin circumferences were also measured. 10-meter unassisted walking, the Thom-son test results and pain according to a VAS scale were assessed. In Group I the tests were carried out after 5 and 20 weeks following open Achilles tendon repair. A test for dependent samples was used to compare within-group statistics and the ANOVA and Tukey's tests were used for between-group comparison.
Results: After 15 weeks of postoperative physical therapy, the patients in Group I had regained the ability to walk unassisted, all measured ranges of motion had improved significantly (from p=0.0001 to p=0.001), the ankle circumference on the operated side had decreased (p=0.002) and no pain was reported. However, the between-group comparison showed persistent, significantly decreased values of supination and plantar flexion on the operated side (p=0.001).
Conclusions: 1. 15 weeks of postoperative physical therapy after open Achilles tendon repair restored painless function of the ankle joint and unassisted walking. 2. Despite a significant improvement in the range of motion, supination and plantar flexion of the foot on the operated side were not fully restored.
Keywords: Achilles tendon; physiotherapy; surgery; trauma.