The role of anterior deltoid re-education in patients with massive irreparable degenerative rotator cuff tears

The management of massive rotator cuff tears in medically unfit, elderly patients is difficult. We prospectively assessed 17 patients with radiologically confirmed, nontraumatic, massive rotator cuff tears who were treated with an anterior deltoid rehabilitation program. All patients were medically unfit, with an average age of 80 years (range, 70-96 years). Patients were given standard detailed instruction and an illustrated guide. A video recording of shoulder motion was made before and after treatment. The Constant score increased from a mean of 26 (range, 8-41) before treatment to a mean of 60 (range, 43-77) at a minimum of 9 months after treatment. Range of motion in forward elevation improved from a mean of 40° (range, 30°-60°) at presentation to a mean of 160° (range 150°-180°) after the deltoid rehabilitation course. We recommend that a structured deltoid rehabilitation program is suitable for elderly patients with massive rotator cuff tears.

(J Shoulder Elbow Surg, 17(6), 863- 870 ,2008.)