New Research Supports Pre-Surgical Therapy For Joint Replacements

Physical therapy is standard care after a total hip or knee replacement, but is there an advantage to working with a physical therapist before your joint replacement? New research weighs in; finding that therapy before surgery can significantly reduce the need for and cost of postoperative care.



joint replacement

There are about 50 million adults with physician-diagnosed arthritis, and these patients have a direct influence on the predicted growth of hip and knee replacements. As arthritis progresses, it can take a toll on joint mobility until joint replacement surgery is necessary to preserve or restore quality of life. Between 2005 and 2030, the number of total hip replacements is expected to grow by 174 percent (572,000 patients) and the number of total knee replacements by 673 percent (3.48 million patients).

Even though the length of hospital stays following these surgeries has decreased by more than half, the cost to administer post-surgical care in skilled nursing facilities and home health agencies is climbing.

However, a new study published in the October 2014 issue of the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery suggests a way for patients to save on post-surgical costs and improve their joint replacement recovery. Study researchers followed the care usage patterns of more than 4,500 total knee and total hip replacement patients. When patients received one or two sessions of physical therapy, or “prehabilitation,” before their joint replacement (at an average cost of $100), their need for standard post-surgical physical therapy and other postoperative care decreased by almost 30 percent, saving each patient an average of $1,215 in postoperative care costs.

The study results suggest that when patients elect to have physical therapy in advance of their joint replacement—to prepare themselves for surgery, they may benefit from decreased need for post-operative rehabilitative care, and a savings in the total healthcare cost of their joint replacement.

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