There is plenty of evidence supporting the use of physical therapy after total joint replacements, but the use of pre-habilitation has been in question. New research comes out finding therapy before surgery can reduce the need for and cost of postoperative care.
In a study that came out of Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery in October of 2014, it followed the care usage patterns of 4,500 total knee and hip replacement patients. When patients received one or two sessions of physical therapy, or “pre-habilitation,” before their joint replacement (at an average cost of $100), their need for standard post-surgical physical therapy and other postoperative care decreased by almost 30 percent, saving each patient an average of $1,215 in postoperative care costs.
This study supports the use of having patients do a short course of physical therapy before undergoing a joint replacement. It decreases their need for post-operative rehabilitative care, and leads to a savings in the total healthcare cost of their joint replacement.
This research comes out at a time when total hip and knee replacements are on the rise. Between 2005 and 2030, the number of total hip replacements is expected to grow by 174 percent (572,000 patients) and the number of total knee replacements by 673 percent (3.48 million patients). So the impact of just a few session of therapy before sugery translates to hundreds of millions of dollars in savings. That’s a lot of dough!