MONDAY, March 7, 2011 (HealthDay News) -- The sooner rehabilitation begins after knee replacement, the better for both patients and hospitals, new research suggests.
In the study, published March 7 in the journal Clinical Rehabilitation, Spanish researchers compared more than 150 patients who began rehabilitation within 24 hours after knee arthroplasty surgery and a matched control group of patients who began rehabilitation 48 to 72 hours after surgery. All of the patients were aged 50 to 75.
On average, patients who started rehabilitation earlier spent two days less in the hospital and had five fewer rehabilitation sessions before they were discharged than those in the control group.
The patients in the early rehabilitation group also had less pain, a greater range of joint motion, improved muscle strength, and scored higher on gait and balance tests, study author Adelaida M. Castro Sanchez, from the University of Almeria, and colleagues found.
The researchers noted in a journal news release that hospitals are trying to cut patient stays in order to reduce costs, and early rehabilitation after knee replacement surgery helps achieve this. Other benefits of early patient mobility include reduced risk of hospital-acquired infections and complications such as deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, chest infection and urinary infection.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has more about recovery from knee replacement surgery.