Diego Poddighe, Giorgio Ferriero, Stefano Corna, Elisabetta Bravini, Francesco Sartorio, Stefano Vercelli

Effects of soft tissue mobilisation on subacute adherent linear scars: a single-group intervention study

  • Nursing (miscellaneous)
  • Fundamentals and skills

Objective: Scar adherence due to a pathological healing process can cause physical and psychological disturbance. Soft tissue mobilisation (STM) techniques are widely used to treat and prevent scar adherence, but little is known on their effects. We aimed to analyse the effect of STM in patients with subacute post-surgical scar adhesions affecting the extremities. Method: A single-group quasi-experimental study was conducted on consecutive patients undergoing post-surgery limb rehabilitation. Patients with a baseline Adhesion Severity (AS) index of <0.5 at the worst scar point, as measured by the Adheremeter, were eligible. All patients who completed a minimum of five manual treatment sessions were included. The primary outcome was the AS index and the secondary outcome was the Italian version of the Patient and Observer Scar Assessment Scales (POSAS-I). Results: A cohort of 19 patients underwent an average of eight STM sessions over a period of one month. The AS index value increased from a median of 0.12 at baseline (interquartile range (IQR): 0.05–0.25) to 0.41 post-treatment (IQR: 0.26–0.63; median change: 0.24; IQR: 0.16–0.40; p<0.001). A large effect size was observed for both AS and Observer Scar Assessment Scale (OSAS-I) (Cohen r=0.6), with a large probability of superiority (PS) (87% and 86%, respectively). A moderate effect was observed for the Patient Scar Assessment Scale (PSAS-I) (Cohen=0.4; PS=71%). Pre–post treatment changes exceeded the minimal detectable changes for the AS and OSAS-I in 68% of subjects, and for PSAS-I in 21% of subjects. Conclusion: STM manual techniques may produce a large effect on the mobility of adherent subacute post-surgical scars.

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