Commencing physical therapy within 24 hours of knee arthroplasty surgery can improve pain, range of joint motion and muscle strength as well as cut hospital stays, says a new research.
Researchers from Almeria, Malaga and Granada in Spain set out to investigate whether an early start to physical therapy would improve recovery from knee arthroplasty surgery.
They compared patients who began treatment within 24 hours of surgery with those who began 48-72 hours after their operation in a random, controlled clinical trial. Each group comprised over 150 patients aged 50-75.
The post-operative treatment began with a series of leg exercises, breathing exercises, and tips on posture. By the second day walking short distances with walking aids was added, and in subsequent days this was built up towards adapting to daily life activities, such as beginning to climb stairs on day four.
On average, those beginning treatment earlier stayed in hospital two days less than the control group and had five fewer rehabilitation sessions before they were discharged. An early start also lead to less pain, a greater range of joint motion both in leg flexion and extension, improved muscle strength and higher scores in tests for gait and balance.
"Orthopaedics, especially knee replacement surgery, is one area that may lend itself to accelerated discharge," said author Adelaida MĶ Castro Sanchez, from the University of Almeria.
"We therefore postulated that early rehabilitation after total knee arthroplasty could accelerate the capacity of patients for daily life activities, and reduce their hospital stay," Sanchez added.
The research has been published in the journal Clinical Rehabilitation.