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J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2008 May;38(5):246-56. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2008.2715. Epub 2007 Dec 14.

Total knee arthroplasty: muscle impairments, functional limitations, and recommended rehabilitation approaches.

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  • 1Department of Physical Therapy, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84108, USA.


The number of total knee arthroplasty (TKA) surgeries performed each year is predicted to steadily increase. Following TKA surgery, self-reported pain and function improve, though individuals are often plagued with quadriceps muscle impairments and functional limitations. Postoperative rehabilitation approaches either are not incorporated or incompletely address the muscular and functional deficits that persist following surgery. While the reason for quadriceps weakness is not well understood in this patient population, it has been suggested that a combination of muscle atrophy and neuromuscular activation deficits contribute to residual strength impairments. Failure to adequately address the chronic muscle impairments has the potential to limit the long-term functional gains that may be possible following TKA. Postoperative rehabilitation addressing quadriceps strength should mitigate these impairments and ultimately result in improved functional outcomes. The purpose of this paper is to describe these quadriceps muscle impairments and discuss how these impairments can contribute to the related functional limitations following TKA. We will also describe the current concepts in TKA rehabilitation and provide recommendations and clinical guidelines based on the current available evidence.


Therapy, level 5.

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