No place like home for knee replacement rehab

In the journals

A study published online March 14, 2017, by The Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that when it comes to speed of recovery after a total knee replacement, a home-based rehabilitation program is as good as rehab that starts with a stay in the hospital.

Researchers randomly assigned people with osteoarthritis undergoing total knee replacement into two groups for 10 weeks of therapy. Those in one group received 10 days of hospital inpatient rehabilitation followed by a clinician-monitored program that they attended two to three times a week for eight weeks. Those in the other group skipped the hospital rehab and went straight into the clinician-monitored program but then progressed to at-home exercises.

After 10 weeks, both groups' mobility was measured by how far the patients could walk in six minutes, and the researchers found no difference between them. Self-reported pain levels, function, and quality of life were also equal.

It is not clear why the patients who started rehab at home benefited as much as those who did inpatient rehab first, even though the latter group had greater access to physiotherapy and support after surgery. The researchers speculated that the home program encourages patients to be more active and independent from the get-go, which may help recovery in the long run.