Post-THA physical therapy exercises improve strength, gait speed and cadence
Post-THA physical therapy exercises improve strength, gait speed and cadence
Physiotherapist-directed rehabilitation exercises in the outpatient or home setting improve strength, gait speed and cadence after elective total hip replacement: a systematic reviewJ Physiother. 2013 Dec;59(4):219-26. doi: 10.1016/S1836-9553(13)70198-X
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5 randomized trials evaluating the effect of post-discharge rehabilitation exercises following a total hip arthroplasty (THA) were included in this review. The purposes of this meta-analysis/systematic review were to (1) examine the effectiveness of physical therapy exercises following THA and (2) determine whether supervised and home-based exercise regimens are comparable with respect to strength, gait, function, and quality of life. Results indicated that the prescription of exercise following THA resulted in significantly better hip abductor strength, gait speed, and cadence, but not hip flexor, hip extensor, or knee extensor strength. There were no significant differences between supervised or home-based exercise interventions with respect to gait speed, cadence, and functional outcomes, except for the Timed Up and Go Test, which favoured the supervised group.
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Detsky AS, Naylor CD, O'Rourke K, McGeer AJ, L'Abbé KA. J Clin Epidemiol. 1992;45:255-65
The Fragility Index is a tool that aids in the interpretation of significant findings, providing a measure of strength for a result. The Fragility Index represents the number of consecutive events that need to be added to a dichotomous outcome to make the finding no longer significant. A small number represents a weaker finding and a large number represents a stronger finding.
Why was this study needed now?
As the population ages, the number of patients undergoing total hip arthroplasty (THA) is steadily increasing. Exercise prescription for rehabilitation following a THA is variable, and is based more so on clinical experience, rather than concrete, methodologically-sound evidence. One systematic review examining the effectiveness of physical therapy following THA concluded that, based on studies published in 2004 or earlier, there was insufficient evidence to provide solid recommendations on this topic. Therefore, this systematic review/meta-analysis was needed to summarize more recent research regarding the effectiveness of both physiotherapist-guided rehabilitation exercises and home-based exercises performed independently.
What was the principal research question?
Are physiotherapist-guided rehabilitation exercises effective in improving strength, gait, function and quality of life in patients who have undergone total hip arthroplasty, and how does this compare to the prescription of home-based exercises performed independently?
What were the important findings?
- 5 randomized trials were included in this review. Three compared an experimental group to a control group, one compared two experimental groups, and one compared two experimental groups with a control group.
- A meta-analysis of 4 studies (n=137) concluded that rehabilitation exercises after discharge significantly improved hip abductor strength (MD: 16 Nm; 95% CI 10 to 22; p<0.05). Separate analyses found no significant effect of post-discharge exercises on hip flexor strength (3 studies; n=111; MD: 6 Nm; 95% CI -2 to 13), hip extensor strength (3 studies; n=111; MD: 21 Nm; 95% CI -2 to 44), or knee extensor strength (2 studies; n=58; MD: 42 Nm; 95% CI -4 to 89) (all p>0.05).
- Post-discharge exercises significantly improved gait speed (2 studies; n=79; MD: 6 m/min; 95% CI 1 to 11) and cadence (1 study; MD: 20 steps/min; 95% CI 8 to 32) (both p<0.05).
- 2 studies assessed function as an outcome; however, the scale on which function was measured varied between these studies. One study, reporting Harris Hip Scores, found exercise to have a significantly beneficial effect on function; however, the mean between-group estimate was only 0.9 points (95% CI 0.2 to 1.6). Significantly better functional outcomes with post-discharge exercises were also observed in the second study (which used the 12-item Hip Questionnaire) (MD in medians 1.5 points; p=0.01).
- One study compared hip abduction strength between home-based exercises and supervised exercises. This study found that the supervised group improved significantly more (by 5.4 Nm); however, differences in baseline measurements may have influenced this result.
- Pooled results from two studies (n=40) revealed no significant differences in gait speed (MD: 8 m/min; 95% CI -9 to 24) or cadence (MD: 2 steps/min; 95% CI -4 to 8) whether the exercise intervention was supervised or home-based (p>0.05).
- One study compared functional outcomes (both objective and patient-reported) between supervised and home-based exercise interventions. This study found no significant difference in patient-reported function (measured on the WOMAC scale), or in the time to ascend four stairs, lower limb power and the 6-minute walk test (all objective measures) (p>0.05). For the Timed Up and Go Test, significantly better results were observed in the supervised group (MD: 1.8 seconds; 95% CI 0.1 to 3.5).
- Results from one study found that quality of life (measured on the Assessment of Quality of Life questionnaire) was similar between exercises that were supervised or home-based (MD: 0.05; 95% CI -0.15 to 0.25).
What should I remember most?
Post-discharge rehabilitation exercises following total hip arthroplasty (THA) resulted in significantly better hip abductor strength, gait speed, and cadence, but not hip flexor, hip extensor, or knee extensor strength. Two studies evaluating functional outcomes on two separate scales both revealed significant improvements in function with post-discharge rehabilitation exercises compared to no intervention. There were no significant differences between supervised or home-based exercise interventions with respect to gait speed, cadence, and most functional outcomes (except the Timed Up and Go Test, which favoured the supervised group). The effect of post-discharge exercise on quality of life, as well as the effect of supervised versus home-based exercises on strength and quality of life, remain unknown.
How will this affect the care of my patients?
Results from this meta-analysis and systematic review suggest that post-discharge rehabilitation exercises may improve gait and strength in patients who have undergone a total hip arthroplasty (THA). Additional high-quality studies, examining the effect of post-discharge exercise on quality of life, as well as the effect of supervised versus home-based exercises on strength and quality of life, are needed.
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