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Physiother Res Int. 2006 Mar;11(1):35-47.

Status of physiotherapy rehabilitation after total knee replacement in Australia.

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Whitlam Joint Replacement Centre, Fairfield Hospital, Sydney, NSW, Australia.



Owing to a scarcity of clinical research, evidence-based clinical guidelines are not available to guide physiotherapy rehabilitation after total knee replacement surgery. This is despite the fact that, annually, over 20000 patients in Australia, over 300 000 patients in North America and 36 000 patients in the UK potentially require rehabilitation at this time to regain functional independence and to resume recreational and work-related physical activities. This survey of clinicians aimed to describe standard (usual) care after total knee replacement in Australia and to provide possible explanations for practice variance, if such variation exists.


A nationwide postal survey involving public and privately funded hospital physiotherapy departments was conducted. Purposive sampling was used to randomly select hospitals from the National Joint Replacement Registry. A series of closed and open-ended protocol-based questions were asked.


A response rate of 65% (65/100) was obtained. Elements of consistency and diversity across the acute and post-acute phases were evident. Consistent findings included the provision of gait retraining and exercise prescription in the acute period, the requirement for independent ambulation as a criterion for discharge from acute care and the routine referral to ongoing outpatient or community-based physiotherapy. Less consistency was reported for the use of continuous passive motion and cryotherapy in the acute phase, the modes of ongoing rehabilitation, discharge from rehabilitation criteria and the tools for measuring outcomes. Both institutional and non-institutional factors appeared to explain the demonstrated practice variation.


In order to propagate evidence-based practice guidelines and uniformity in care, well-designed clinical trials are required to identify cost-effective rehabilitation programmes after total knee replacement.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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