Static progressive stretch orthosis—consensus modality to treat knee stiffness—rationale and literature review

Anil Bhave, Nipun Sodhi, Hiba K. Anis, Joseph O. Ehiorobo, Michael A. Mont


The current literature supports static progressive stretch (SPS) orthoses as the consensus modality to treat joint stiffness as an adjunct to manual therapy. Over 50 published studies prove the efficacy and safety of this modality as an adjunct to therapy to improve range of motion (ROM) as well as decrease stiffness and pain. Data from a large prospective study on SPS effectiveness identified a 90% improvement in ROM, 84% reduction in stiffness and swelling, 70% reduction in pain, and no reports of complications or injury. Another 13 studies evaluating patients with knee stiffness have shown excellent results with SPS, and a reduced need for manipulation under anesthesia or additional surgeries. The bidirectional SPS device allows for ROM therapy in both flexion and extension, uses short, 5-minute incremental stretches for up to a 30-minute session applied 1 to 3 times per day for 8 weeks, though treatment might be needed for longer durations (8 to 12 weeks) in cases with chronic stiffness/contracture, to improve motion and significantly reduces need for manipulation or surgery for treatment of knee fibrosis. Earlier application of SPS therapy, even immediately postoperative following corrective surgery for motion loss, can greatly improve the results for patients who have limitations in knee motion.