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Early Rehabilitation Post-Knee Arthroplasty Beneficial

Starting rehabilitation within 24 hours of total knee arthroplasty improves pain and autonomy

THURSDAY, March 31 (HealthDay News) -- Starting rehabilitation within 24 hours of total knee arthroplasty for osteoarthritis reduces the average hospital stay and the requisite number of sessions to achieve autonomy and normal gait and balance, according to a study published online March 7 in Clinical Rehabilitation.

Nuria Sánchez Labraca, from the University of Almeria in Spain, and colleagues evaluated the benefits of starting rehabilitation treatment within 24 hours of primary total knee arthroplasty surgery compared to 48 to 72 hours post-surgery. A total of 306 osteoarthritis patients were randomly assigned to start rehabilitation within 24 hours or to a control group that started rehabilitation later. The duration of hospital stay was measured, as was pain, joint range of motion, muscle strength, gait and balance, and autonomy.

The investigators found that patients who began rehabilitation within 24 hours of surgery had a significantly reduced hospital stay and fewer rehabilitation sessions before their discharge. They also experienced less pain, improved joint flexion and extension, improved quadriceps and hamstring muscle strength, and had higher gait and balance scores compared to controls.

"Physical therapy in the first 24 hours after knee arthroplasty improves autonomy in daily life activities, balance, and gait, and reduces hospital stay in comparison to therapy applied at 48 to 72 hours post-surgery," the authors write.

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