The authors analysed the gross motor recovery of infants and toddlers with cyanotic and acyanotic congenital heart disease (CHD) who received early postoperative physical therapy to see whether there was any difference in the duration to recovery.
This study retrospectively evaluated the influence of early physical therapy on postoperative gross motor outcomes of patients with CHD. The gross motor ability of patients with cyanotic (n = 25, average age: 376.4 days) and acyanotic (n = 26, average age: 164.5 days) CHD was evaluated using our newly developed nine-grade mobility assessment scale. Physical therapy was started at an average of five days after surgery, during which each patient’s gross motor ability was significantly decreased compared with the preoperative level. Patients (who received early postoperative physical therapy) with cyanotic (88.0%) and acyanotic CHD (96.2%) showed improved preoperative mobility grades by the time of hospital discharge. However, patients with cyanotic CHD had a significantly prolonged recovery period compared to those with acyanotic CHD (p < .01). The postoperative recovery period to preoperative mobility grade was significantly correlated with pre-, intra-, and postoperative factors.
The findings suggested that infants with cyanotic CHD are likely at a greater risk of gross motor delays, the recovery of which might differ between infants with cyanotic and acyanotic CHD after cardiac surgery. Early postoperative physical therapy promotes gross motor recovery. Implications of Rehabilitation Infants and toddlers with cyanotic congenital heart disease are likely at greater risk of gross motor delays and have a prolonged recovery period of gross motor ability compared to those with acyanotic congenital heart disease. Early postoperative physical therapy for patients with congenital heart disease after cardiac surgery promoted gross motor recovery. The postoperative recovery period to preoperative mobility grade was affected by pre-, intra-, and postoperative factors. Rehabilitation experts should consider the risk of gross motor delays of patients with congenital heart disease after cardiac surgery and the early postoperative physical therapy to promote their gross motor recovery.