Preoperative Physical Therapy Reduces Need for Postoperative Care

Physical therapy after total hip or total knee replacement surgery is standard care for all patients. A new study, which appeared in the Oct. 1 issue of the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery(JBJS), also found that physical therapy before joint replacement surgery, or “prehabilitation,” can diminish the need for postoperative care by nearly 30 percent, saving an average of $1,215 per patient in skilled nursing facility, home health agency or other postoperative care.

According to the study, approximately 50 million U.S. adults have physician-diagnosed arthritis. As the condition progresses, arthritis patients often require total hip replacement and/or total knee replacement to maintain mobility and life quality. The number of total hip replacements is expected to grow by 174 percent (572,000 patients) between 2005 and 2030, and total knee replacements by 673 percent (3.48 million).

Through Medicare claims data, researchers were able to identify both preoperative physical therapy and postoperative care usage patterns for 4,733 total hip replacement and total knee replacement patients.

Approximately 77 percent of patients used care services following surgery. After adjusting for demographic characteristics and other conditions, patients receiving preoperative physical therapy showed a 29 percent reduction in postoperative care use.