Tag Archives: joint replacement postoperative rehabilitation

Home Exercise vs. Outpatient Physical Therapy Following Total Knee Arthroplasty

at-home-exerciseDr. Jeff Stickney, a Kirkland orthopedic surgeon, can help you determine whether outpatient physical therapy or home exercise is better suited for your recovery following total knee arthroplasty. He specializes in orthopedic surgeries and health care including total knee replacement, joint replacement, sports medicine, and more. Contact doctor Stickney’s office today to learn more.

Outpatient physical therapy (OPT) is the practice of visiting a healthcare facility such as a clinic or office to perform exercises to treat musculoskeletal problems. This strategic physical activity with the guidance of a physical therapist is a common means of both injury prevention and recovery from sports injuries, because it helps patients address joint pain and regain range of motion. While OPT has a long history as a fundamental part of proper treatment plans for recovery and maintenance following total knee arthroplasty (TKA), recent studies have questioned the need for OPT following total knee replacement surgery.

A new study, “Home Exercises vs. Outpatient Physical Therapy After Total Knee Arthroplasty: Value and Outcomes Following a Protocol Change”, explored the “health safety, efficacy, and home economics of routine home exercises following TKA compared with OPT immediately afterward”. It compared 251 patients who were prescribed OPT following TKA, and 269 who followed a home exercise program instead after their operations. Ultimately the study found that patients who practice home-directed exercise programs in place of formal OPT have seen comparable outcomes, and can even experience significantly reduced costs. They concluded that while some patients required OPT following their home exercise program, the majority did not.

As the study above highlights, the use of home-healthcare for knee postoperative knee rehabilitation following TKA is increasing. Many other publications have reported the same, claiming that supervised rehab such as OPT may not be necessary for optimal recovery following TKA. However, another recent study explored the association between physical therapy (PT) and functional improvements for patients in home settings. This study also explored factors related to PT utilization, meaning it identified the reasons patients did or did not use their home healthcare.

The study found that lower home-healthcare utilization was correlated with worse recovery. Participation in home-healthcare was generally lower for patients who had the help of physical therapists from rural agencies that came to their home. Medical complexity – such as depressive symptoms or dyspnea – factored into the patients’ levels of participation too.

Comparing the results of both studies, we can conclude that home exercise for joint replacement postoperative rehabilitation is effective, however it’s important that patients actually follow through on utilizing the home practice, performing the necessary amount for an optimal recovery. We can also see that those with medical complexities may need additional monitoring to verify that they perform the necessary amount of home PT sessions to achieve optimal knee surgical outcomes for a complete recovery.

Can Patients Who Live Alone Be Sent Home Safely After Joint Replacement?

homerecoveryAccording to a recent study published by The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery in partnership with Wolters Kluwer, most patients who live alone can safely be discharged home from the hospital to recover after knee or hip replacement surgery.

This encouraging finding questions the firmly held belief that patients who live on their own should first be sent to an inpatient rehabilitation facility after undergoing hip or knee joint replacement surgery. “Patients living alone had a safe and manageable recovery when discharged directly home after total joint arthroplasty,” write Andrew N. Fleischman, MD, and colleagues from The Rothman Institute, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia.

The study focused on 769 patients of a similar age demographic who were sent directly home after one-sided total hip or knee replacement; 138 of these patients were living alone for the first two weeks after surgery. The researchers compared complication rates and other important outcomes for patients who lived alone versus those who lived with others.

The researchers did find that patients who lived alone were more likely to spend more than one night in the hospital, had higher rates of in-home nursing care and physical therapy. But otherwise, the outcomes were very similar for patients living alone compared to those who lived with others. In both groups, the post-discharge complication rate was around eight percent. The two groups also had similar rates of “unplanned clinical events,” such as emergency department or urgent care visits. Pain relief and satisfaction scores during recovery were very alike as well.

Perhaps some of the most exciting results: up to six months after surgery, there were no significant differences in scores for joint functioning and quality of life and nearly 90 percent of patients living alone said they would choose to be discharged home directly after surgery again.

Although some patients who live alone can benefit from home health services or even an extra day in the hospital, discharge directly home for joint replacement postoperative rehabilitation may be a much more economical and comfortable choice than routinely sending them for inpatient rehabilitation – while also avoiding the believed associated risks.

Dr. Stickney, a Kirkland orthopedic surgeon, is an expert in exercise and healthjoint replacement surgerysports medicine and more. Contact Dr. Stickney and return to your healthy, pain-free lifestyle!