Investigation of the barriers to and functional outcomes of telerehabilitation in patients with hand injury


Journal of Hand Therapy, 2024 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.jht.2023.10.003
  • Journal Name: Journal of Hand Therapy
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Biotechnology Research Abstracts, CINAHL, MEDLINE
  • Keywords: Hand injuries, Telemedicine, Telerehabilitation, Tendons
  • Gazi University Affiliated: Yes


Background: Telerehabilitation is an approach that is growing in importance and rapidly becoming more prevalent. However, the potential barriers to this approach and its effectiveness relative to face-to-face treatment still need to be determined. Purpose: The aim of this study was to investigate the technology and access barriers, implementation and organizational challenges, and communication barriers faced by patients undergoing postoperative telerehabilitation after hand tendon repair surgery. It also aimed to investigate the effect of telerehabilitation on pain, kinesiophobia, and functional outcomes. Study design: Prospective, open-label, nonrandomized comparative clinical study. Methods: The study was conducted with 44 patients who underwent tendon repair surgery due to tendon injuries of the extrinsic muscles of the hand. Participants were divided into two groups (face-to-face group and telerehabilitation group). All participants received three physiotherapy sessions per week for 8 weeks from their surgery (via video conference using mobile phones to the telerehabilitation group). An early passive motion protocol was applied for flexor tendon and zone 5-7 extensor tendon repairs. Mallet finger rehabilitation was performed for zone 2 extensor tendon repairs, while an early active short arc approach was used for zone 3-4 repairs. The telerehabilitation and face-to-face groups received the same treatment protocols three times a week. In the eighth week of treatment (in the 24th session), the Turkish version of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand Injury Questionnaire (DASH-T) and Tampa Scale for Kinesiophobia were administered to all patients. The telerehabilitation group also underwent a barrier questionnaire. A pretreatment assessment could not be conducted. The independent-sample t-test was used for DASH-T data, and the Mann-Whitney U-test was used for Tampa Scale for Kinesiophobia to compare groups. Results: In the study, there were 24 participants (age: 31.58 ± 12.02 years) in the face-to-face group and 20 participants (age: 39.25 ± 12.72 years) in the telerehabilitation group. The two groups were similar in terms of DASH-T and pain (p = 0.103, effect size = 0.647, and p = 0.086, effect size = 0.652, respectively) in the 8 weeks. However, the telerehabilitation group had a higher fear of movement (p = 0.017, effect size = 3.265). The most common barriers to telerehabilitation practices were the fear of damaging the tendon repair and the need for help during the treatment. Conclusions: We determined that face-to-face treatment in acute physiotherapy for patients who have undergone tendon repair may be more effective compared to telerehabilitation, as it appears to be less likely to induce kinesiophobia. However, in situations where face-to-face treatment is not possible (such as lockdown), telerehabilitation can also be preferred after at least one in-person session to teach and perform exercises.