The aim of the study was to analyse the safety and effects of early initiation of a 9-week rehabilitation protocol including objective measurement outcomes after lumbar spine fusion based on principles of strength training.
The study recruited 34 patients (19 men & 15 women), aged from 45 to 70 years, who had undergone lumbar spine fusion. The method of concealed random allocation without blocking was used to form two groups. The strength training group started rehabilitation 3 weeks after the surgery. Patients exercised twice per week over the course of 9 weeks focusing on muscle activation of lumbopelvic stabilization muscles. The control group followed a standard postoperative protocol, where no exercises were performed at that stage of rehabilitation. Functional outcomes and plain radiographs were evaluated at 3 weeks and subsequently at 3 months after the surgery.
Neither hardware loosening nor failure was observed in the training group. Both groups improved their walking speed after 3 months, although improvement in the training group was significantly greater than that of the control group. Moreover, the training group significantly improved after the training period in all isometric trunk muscle measurements, standing reach height and pre-activation pattern.
The study showed that early initiation of a postoperative rehabilitation program based on principles of strength training is safe, three weeks after lumbar spine fusion and enables earlier functional recovery than standard rehabilitation protocol.