Pre-op physical therapy education key to quicker recovery in joint patients, study finds

Joint replacement patients who experience a one-on-one education session with a physical therapist and access to a web-based education reach postoperative physical therapy milestones faster than individuals without these resources, according to a study published in the journal Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research.

For the study, researchers at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City enrolled 126 hip or knee replacement surgery patients into one of two cohorts. While both cohorts participated in a group physical therapy education session prior to surgery between February and June 2015, one group participated in a one-on-one educational session with a physical therapist and received access to a customized educational website. The control group received an informational booklet and no one-one-one session.

Patients in the one-on-one cohort needed fewer postoperative physical therapy sessions (3.3 sessions on average) compared to controls (4.4 sessions on average). Additionally, controls took 2.7 days on average to meet physical therapy discharge criteria, compared to just 1.6 days on average for the one-on-one cohort.

"After surgery, patients may be dealing with issues such as fatigue, discomfort or anxiety, and it may not be the most opportune time to give them information about the road ahead," said Amar Ranawat, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at HSS and senior study author. "With the face-to-face information session and user-friendly website, they can receive and retain much of the information prior to surgery. Many patients feel more confident knowing what to expect."

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