Home Rehab May Be Enough For Some Patients After Knee Surgery

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Almost 90% of those in the study had undergone knee replacement as a result of debilitating osteoarthritis
Almost 90% of those in the study had undergone knee replacement as a result of debilitating osteoarthritis

HealthDay News -- Patients who choose at-home physical therapy instead of in-patient rehabilitation after knee replacement surgery do just as well when it comes to complications, long-term pain management, and movement recovery, new research indicates. 

The findings were presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, held from March 24 to 28 in Las Vegas.

The current comparative analysis involved more than 2,400 patients who'd had knee replacement surgery between 2007 and 2011 and had either gone straight home or to an in-patient rehabilitation facility. Their average age was 66. Almost 90% had undergone knee replacement as a result of debilitating osteoarthritis

The investigators looked back at how patients who chose one or the other option fared, with careful attention paid to ensuring that the two groups were similar in terms of age, overall health status, and postsurgery mobility status. All patients completed multiple surveys: a pain and function survey prior to surgery; a complication survey six months following surgery; and another pain and function survey two years out.

No difference was seen between the two groups at the six month postsurgery mark in terms of infection risk, knee stiffness, or other complications. Nor was any difference seen two years out in terms of progress made, pain experienced, or ability to move. The team also found that patients who were sent to a "skilled nursing facility" fared just as well two years out as those who had been sent to a standard in-patient rehabilitation center.

"Based on these findings, we are encouraging more patients to consider going home so they can receive their aftercare in a home environment instead of at an in-patient rehab facility," lead author Douglas Padgett, MD, chief of the Adult Reconstruction and Joint Replacement Service at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, told HealthDay.

Reference

Padgett DE, et al. "Effect of Discharge Destination on Primary Total Knee Replacement Outcomes." Presented at: American College of Orthopaedic Surgeons Meeting, Las Vegas, March 24-28, 2015.

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