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Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2017 Feb;69(2):192-200. doi: 10.1002/acr.23117.

Post-Acute Rehabilitation After Total Knee Replacement: A Multicenter Randomized Clinical Trial Comparing Long-Term Outcomes.

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University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
Sydney Orthopaedic Research Institute, Chatswood, New South Wales, Australia.
Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.



To evaluate the long-term benefit of providing a post-acute, outpatient group exercise program for patients following primary total knee replacement (TKR) surgery for osteoarthritis.


A multicenter randomized clinical trial was conducted in 12 Australian public and private hospital centers. A total of 422 participants, ages 45-75 years, were randomly allocated prior to hospital discharge to the post-acute group exercise program or to usual care and were assessed at 6 weeks, 6 months, and 12 months after surgery. The main outcomes were operated knee pain and activity limitations at 12 months using the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index questionnaire. Secondary outcomes included health-related quality of life (Short Form 12 health survey), knee extension and flexion strength, stair-climb power, 50-foot walk speed, and active knee range of motion.


While both allocation groups achieved significant improvements in knee pain and activity limitations over the 12-month followup period, there were no significant differences in these main outcomes, or in the secondary physical performance measures, between the 2 treatment allocations. Twelve months after TKR, 69% and 72% of participants allocated to post-acute exercise and usual acute care, respectively, were considered to be treatment-responders. While population normative values for self-report measures of pain, activity limitation, and health-related quality of life were attained 12 months after TKR, marked deficits in physical performance measures remained.


Providing access to a post-acute group exercise program did not result in greater reductions in long-term knee pain or activity limitations than usual care. Patients undergoing primary TKR retain marked physical performance deficits 12 months after surgery.

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