Variability in Rehabilitation Protocols after Superior Labrum Anterior Posterior Surgical Repair


  • Christina A. Hermanns KUMC School of Medicine
  • Reed G. Coda
  • Sana Cheema
  • Matthew L. Vopat, M.D.
  • Armin Tarakemeh
  • Kyle Veazey, D.P.T
  • John P. Schroeppel, M.D.
  • Scott Mullen, M.D.
  • Bryan G. Vopat, M.D.



Shoulder, Rehabilitation, SLAP tear, Superior Labrum Anterior Posterior, Physical Therapy


Introduction. Rehabilitation after a superior labral anterior posterior (SLAP) repair is an important aspect of patient outcomes, however, no standardized rehabilitation protocol has been defined. The purpose of this paper is to assess the variability of rehabilitation after SLAP repair to understand the need for standardization to improve patient outcomes.

Methods. Protocols for SLAP repairs were collected through a search for Academic Orthopedic Programs and a general google search using the terms “[Program Name (if applicable)] SLAP Repair Rehab Protocol”. Protocols were compared by sling, range of motion (ROM), physical therapy, return to sport (RTS), return to throwing, and biceps engagement/ biceps tenodesis recommendations. Protocols for non-operative or generalized shoulders were excluded. 

Results. Sixty protocols were included. A total of 61.7% (37/60) recommended a sling for four to six weeks and 90% (54/60) included a full ROM recommendation, but time was variable. There were different exercises recommended, but pendulum swings were recommended by 53% (32/60), submaximal isometrics by 55% (33/60), and scapular strengthening by 65% (39/60). Of the sixty protocols, 33% (20/60) recommended return to sports in 24 weeks and 38.3% (23/60) recommended allowing throwing in 16 weeks.

Conclusion. There was variability in protocols for SLAP repair, especially time until full ROM, RTS, and biceps strengthening. Time in sling and scapular strengthening were the least variable. A lack of specificity within protocols in what return to throwing meant for functional ability made it difficult to compare protocols. Considering the large number of Orthopedic programs, a relatively small number had published protocols. Further studies are needed to evaluate a standardized post-operative rehabilitation for SLAP repairs to improve outcomes.






Original Research