Recovery after knee surgery at home could be as effective as rehab in hospital. Arthritis Digest reports
People who have knee replacement surgery may be able to recover just as well at home as they would by staying in a rehabilitation facility, according to research from the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.
Data from over 2,400 people enrolled in the HSS Knee Replacement Registry was analysed. After surgery, some recovered at home while others went to inpatient rehab. The research focused on patients with similar characteristics when comparing those who went home versus those who went to inpatient rehab after surgery. They were matched by age, health conditions and pre-operative function.
Home-based patients received visits from physiotherapists for three days a week for four to six weeks, while those treated at the facility received physiotherapy six days a week and often stayed for 10 to 14 days.
There were no difference in complication rates within six months of knee replacement, regardless of whether patients went home or to an inpatient rehab facility after leaving the hospital. Both groups had similar outcomes in terms of pain and function two years after surgery.
The research therefore suggests that home-based treatment may be a more cost-effective option in many cases.
“There’s a common belief that people should go to a rehab facility after joint replacement,” explains Dr Douglas Padgett, who led the research. “Our study found that patients can be safely discharged to their home following knee replacement, dispelling the notion that rehabilitation at an inpatient facility is essential for a successful recovery.”
A spokesman for Arthritis Research UK comments:
“In the UK, post-operative exercise programmes vary from hospital to hospital. It’s very important that people who have had knee replacement surgery have access to a rehabilitation and exercise programme, as it’s been proven to have a big beneficial effect on their recovery.
“We’re currently investigating whether intensive post-operative physiotherapy can improve poor satisfaction rates following knee replacement surgery. Currently, outpatient physiotherapy is not routine; often patients are given a home exercise package, but there isn’t usually any supervised physiotherapy provided on the NHS. If targeted intensive physiotherapy is shown to work and made deliverable on the NHS, it could help a lot of people.”
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