Home Care Matches Inpatient Results for Knee Patients

Patients who recover at home after knee replacement surgery do just as well as those who choose inpatient rehab, new research shows.

Patients do just as well receiving at-home physical therapy as their inpatient counterparts when it comes to complications, long-term pain management and movement recovery, according to a study recently presented at the American College of Orthopaedic Surgeons annual meeting in Las Vegas.

The findings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

“Based on these findings, we are encouraging more patients to consider going home so they can receive their aftercare in a home environment instead of at an inpatient rehab facility,” said study lead author Dr. Douglas Padgett, chief of the Adult Reconstruction and Joint Replacement Service at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, according to reports

Standard recovery time for knee replacement surgery can run anywhere from two to four months, Padgett said.

Typically, patients assigned for inpatient rehab care stay about two weeks, receiving physical therapy roughly six days per week, sometimes followed by in-home or outpatient care after they return home, media report that he said. By comparison, those sent directly home are generally visited by a home-care physical therapist three days per week for up to six weeks.

The study findings “indicate that patients who go straight home do as well as those who go to an inpatient rehab facility,” Padgett said.

The team also found that patients who were sent to a skilled nursing facility fared just as well two years out as those who had been sent to a standard inpatient rehab center.

“The current comparative analysis involved more than 2,400 patients who’d had knee replacement surgery between 2007 and 2011,” media report. “Their average age was 66. Almost 90% had undergone knee replacement as a result of debilitating osteoarthritis.”

Read HealthDay’s coverage of the study here.

Written by Cassandra Dowell