Up to a third of patients with total knee arthroplasty (TKA) experience a fall within 6 months to a year after surgery, but a new study suggests that physical therapists (PTs) can reduce this risk by targeting specific deficits for intervention.
Researchers followed 134 individuals at a Hong Kong hospital for 6 months after TKA to determine falls frequency, circumstances, and risk factors. All patients had been referred for outpatient rehabilitation. The individuals were all between the ages of 50 and 85 with a primary diagnosis of knee osteoarthritis (OA). Results were published in the September issue of PTJ(Physical Therapy).
Participants attended physical therapy 1-2 times per week for 8-10 weeks, beginning 2 weeks after surgery. Sessions included electrotherapy, mobilizing and strengthening exercises, and gait and balance training. At 4 weeks postsurgery, PTs evaluated knee proprioception, balance, knee pain, knee extension and flexion muscle strength, range of motion, and balance confidence. Patients also were given a log book to record any falls. After the evaluation, authors followed up monthly to ask participants about any falls they may have experienced.