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Patellar tendon repair with allograft post-operative physical therapy protocol

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General considerations

  • The surgical leg will be weight bearing as tolerated using crutches post-operatively.
  • Range of motion will be blocked at 0 degrees in a brace for 4 weeks.
  • Passive range of motion 0 to 20 degrees X 2 weeks, progress slowly as tolerated to 70 degrees by 4 weeks.
  • Important not to push for flexion past 70 degrees for 4 weeks post-op to protect repair.
  • Avoid bandaged area and portals for 4 weeks, “no touch zone” 2 inches from portals.
  • Focus on proper quadriceps activation, especially VMO recruitment and patellofemoral mechanics should be the emphasis in the early stages of recovery.

*Returning to full activity as early as possible is dependent upon adherence to the first 6 weeks of the protocol. Continue fitness through upper extremity, trunk, and cardiovascular exercise.

Week 1

  • M.D., office visit day 2 for dressing change, review of medications and instruction on a home program.


  • Ankle pumps, quad sets, leg raises in multiple planes (except hip flexion).
  • Extension stretching to hamstrings, calves, and lateral musculature to maintain extension range of motion.
  • Well-leg stationary cycling and Upper Body Ergometer. Upper body weight machines and trunk exercises.
  • Gait training with crutches, pain and edema control, and muscle stimulation to improve quadriceps recruitment.


  • Soft tissue mobilization to surrounding musculature; effleurage for edema.


  • Decrease pain and edema.
  • Gait weight bearing as tolerated with brace locked in 0 degrees extension.
  • Passive range of motion 0 to 20 degrees X 2weeks, up to 70 degrees by 4 weeks.

Weeks 2 - 4

  • Nurse visit at 14 days post operative for suture removal.


  • Continue to progress weight bearing and functional mobility as able.
  • Active open chain hip extensions, adductions, abductions progressing to resistive band exercises as appropriate (proximal to the knee).
  • Standing calf raises. Straight legged bridging on ball with brace on.
  • Well legged cycling, upper body work outs.


  • Soft tissue mobilization surrounding structures, patellofemoral joint,and suprapatellar pouch with appropriate intensity to allow maturation and healing.


  • Decrease pain and edema.
  • Gait weight bearing as tolerated with brace locked in 0 degrees extension.
  • Passive range of motion progress towards 70 degrees as tolerated.

Weeks 4 - 6

  • M.D. visit at 1 month post-op. Wean out of brace, use brace unlocked if approved by MD.


  • continue soft tissue mobilization. Initiate gentle patellar glides and portal scar tissue mobilization when appropriate.


  • Ankle and hip resisted PNF patterns.
  • Single leg balance with perturbations (Around the worlds, single balance with upper extremity movements).
  • Prone on ball with added hip motions.
  • Continue well legged cycling and upper body work outs.


  • Range of motion 0 to 100 degrees.

Weeks 6 - 8

  • Exercise-Begin functional exercises such as partial squats, bent leg bridges, small range slider lunges, mini step ups.
  • Proprioceptive training. Continue to increase intensity and resistance of other exercises.
  • Two-legged bicycling for range of motion and without resistance and without forcing range of motion.
  • Emphasis on gait training with proper movement patterns.


  • Soft tissue mobilization through hip, knee, and lumbar region as necessary.
  • PNF patterns with resistance above the knee for hip and pelvic patterns.
  • Patellar decompression with taping techniques as needed.


  • Focus on gait mechanics. Range of motion 0 to 110 degrees.
  • Initiate stationary bicycle no resistance/pain.

Weeks 8 - 12

  • Initiate passive flexion stretching to increase range of motion.
  • Add lateral exercises (i.e. lateral stepping, lateral step-ups, etc.).
  • Continue all exercises with emphasis on closed-chain, functional and proprioceptive program.
  • Increase resistance of cycling, add stair machine, and pool programs.


  • Gait no limp, good mechanics. Full range squat no pain. Stair management no pain. Range of motion 90% of normal.

Weeks 12 - 16

  • MD appointment at 12 weeks. Complete Sports test 1.
  • Goals are to increase strength, power, and cardiovascular conditioning.
  • Sport-specific exercises and training program. Eccentric focused strengthening program.
  • Begin pre-running program (see handout for specific instructions) as able to demonstrate good strength and mechanics.

4 - 6 months

  • Goals are to develop maximal strength, power, and advance to sporting activities.
  • Resisted closed-chain rehabilitation through multiple ranges.
  • Running program, balance drills and agility program.
  • Initiate plyometric training as able to demonstrate adequate strength and proper mechanics.

NOTE: All progressions are approximations and should be used as a guideline only. Progression will be based on individual patient presentation, which is assessed throughout the treatment process.