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Telerehabilitation 'can be effective following knee replacement surgery'

20:00 EDT 19 Jul 2015 | Arthritis Research UK

Physical therapy delivered remotely via videoconferencing can be just as effective for knee surgery patients as in-person sessions, according to a new study.

The new Canadian research from the Université Laval in Quebec saw 205 patients scheduled for hospital discharge following total knee replacement surgery separated into two groups, with one to receiving face-to-face home visits and another to receive at-home telerehabilitation using interactive videoconferencing methods.

Both groups received the same instructions and number of interactions with their physical therapist over a two-month period, with outcomes and performance evaluated prior to surgery, immediately after the two-month rehabilitation program, and again at four months post-discharge.

According to results published in the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, the demographic and clinical characteristics of the two patient groups were shown to be similar at baseline and nearly identical following rehabilitation, suggesting there is little difference between the effectiveness of the two methods.

Pain, function and stiffness scores were identical two months following hospital discharge across both groups, remaining comparable after four months. The range of motion, strength, activity and quality of life experienced by the patients were also similar between the cohorts.

It underlines the potential benefits of making telerehabilitation more widely available to patients in rural or underserved regions where attending an in-person meeting is difficult.

Dr Hélène Moffet, lead study author, physical therapist and professor at the Université Laval, said: "This is important information for patients, as well as surgeons, clinicians and clinic managers who are interested in incorporating this type of innovative service into their practice as it becomes more widely available."

Arthritis Research UK is currently running a clinical trial testing the effectiveness of intensive postoperative rehabilitation in people who have had a knee replacement, specifically at those who researchers think will benefit most and are prepared to commit to the regime.

A spokeswoman for the charity said: "These findings mean that as long as patients are being properly directed by a physiotherapist and not left to their own devices, physiotherapy can be delivered as effectively remotely as via a face-to-face meeting. As such, it could have wide cost-saving implications."

Original Article: Telerehabilitation 'can be effective following knee replacement surgery'

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