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The Different Kinds of CPM Machines

Posted by J Bergsten on

When Dr. Robert Salter first came up with the concept of Continuous Passive Motion (CPM) back in the 1970's, he envisioned patients with knee problems benefitting from the gentle, rhythmic motion his devices were intended to provide. Dr. Salter’s studies led to a number of revelations that, at the time, were ground breaking.

1)  Getting a patient’s knee moving passively, after certain types of procedures, was safe. The trend at the time was to immobilize patients after many types of knee surgeries, but Dr. Salter’s studies disagreed with that course of action. The phrase “Motion is Life” was coined shortly after Dr. Salter’s initial findings were published.

2)  Getting a patient’s knee moving after surgery actually decreased the patient’s pain. Dr. Salter’s theory was that safe motion would allow for a reduction in the amount of swelling in the knee joint. This motion would allow for patients to feel better, quicker. This theory bore itself out in his study as patient pain scores dropped dramatically in the group which received passive motion machines.

3)  Dr. Salter proved that a patient’s early range of motion would be much better after knee surgery if the patient was placed immediately in a CPM machine. The early range of motion scores between the CPM group and the immobilized group were drastically in favor of those who received passive motion therapy.

The concept of getting a patient moving right after knee surgery, which was foreign to most doctors prior to Salter’s work, became increasingly popular. Today, the idea that “Motion is Life” is shared by the vast majority of surgeons who perform knee surgeries.

What about other parts of the body? CPM's have become quite popular in the last ten to fifteen years. Orthopedic surgeons have started to apply what they know about passive motion of the knee to other joints. One of the most common types of shoulder surgeries performed each year is the Rotator Cuff Repair (RCR). Patients who suffer rotator cuff injuries and need surgical intervention are not allowed to actively (using their own muscles) lift their arm out away from their bodies. Surgeons have started using CPM machines for their RCR patients and are raving about the results. Typically, patients are prescribed the shoulder CPM at home starting immediately after surgery and in most cases the same day. Some even wake up in recovery with the machine! Oftentimes, the machine is used for three weeks (ask your doctor what he/she recommends) for 3-5 hours per day. The doctors and therapists have reported:

1)  Patient’s pain scores were drastically down.

2)  Their initial range of motion was much higher.

3)  Time spent in formal physical therapy was dramatically lower than those patients who did not use a shoulder CPM.

Formal studies do not show a significant difference in long term results (one year after surgery) but evidence in the short term is very clear: CPM works…and not just for knee patients.

As a result, manufacturers have come out with impressive variations of CPM machines for the other joints. These include the elbow, wrist, hand/finger, hip, ankle and toe. CPM machines should be prescribed by medical professionals because only they know if it is safe for you to use. They know your situation better than you or I do. If you are interested in using any of these types of machines, consult your physician and contact The Medcom Group at 877-301-4276. We’ll get you moving.

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