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Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2012 Jul;93(7):1292-4. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2012.02.014. Epub 2012 Feb 27.

Physiotherapy exercise after fast-track total hip and knee arthroplasty: time for reconsideration?

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Clinical Research Centre, and Departments of Orthopedic Surgery and Physical Therapy, Copenhagen University Hospital, Hvidovre, Denmark.


Major surgery, including total hip arthroplasty (THA) and total knee arthroplasty (TKA), is followed by a convalescence period, during which the loss of muscle strength and function is considerable, especially early after surgery. In recent years, a combination of unimodal evidence-based perioperative care components has been demonstrated to enhance recovery, with decreased need for hospitalization, convalescence, and risk of medical complications after major surgery-the fast-track methodology or enhanced recovery programs. It is the nature of this methodology to systematically and scientifically optimize all perioperative care components, with the overall goal of enhancing recovery. This is also the case for the care component "physiotherapy exercise" after THA and TKA. The 2 latest meta-analyses on the effectiveness of physiotherapy exercise after THA and TKA generally conclude that physiotherapy exercise after THA and TKA either does not work or is not very effective. The reason for this may be that the "pill" of physiotherapy exercise typically offered after THA and TKA does not contain the right active ingredients (too little intensity) or is offered at the wrong time (too late after surgery). We propose changing the focus to earlier initiated and more intensive physiotherapy exercise after THA and TKA (fast-track physiotherapy exercise), to reduce the early loss of muscle strength and function after surgery. Ideally, the physiotherapy exercise interventions after THA and TKA should be simple, using few and well-chosen exercises that are described in detail, adhering to basic exercise physiology principles, if possible.

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