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New Phase of Exercise Advised Four Months after Hip Replacement

Posted on: 09/20/2004
Exercises for a total hip replacement (THR) usually start in the hospital right after the operation. Physical therapy may continue at home after the patient leaves the hospital. But how long should patients keep up the exercise program? In this study the benefits of late-phase rehab were measured.

The study included 34 adults with THRs. All had the THR between four months and one year ago. The patients were divided into two groups. Both groups did exercises. One group did a program of exercises usually given right after the surgery. The second group did special weight-bearing exercises. In these exercises, the patient stands on the affected leg and completes a series of slow, controlled motions.

Before this study there was no data on how well either type of exercise worked. These researchers measured muscle strength, stability, and fear of falling before and after eight weeks. Both exercise groups were tested. The researchers also asked patients to rate their pain and difficulty with daily activities.

The authors report that patients showed improvement in all areas after the weight-bearing exercises. Patients doing early rehab exercises showed no change. The authors conclude that patients don't benefit by doing the early rehab exercises past four months after THR.

A new phase of rehab is advised after THR using weight-bearing exercises. The program can start when tissues are healed and standing no longer causes pain.

Elaine Trudelle-Jackson, PT, PhD, and Susan S. Smith, PT, PhD. Effects of a Late-Phase Exercise Program after Total Hip Arthroplasty: A Randomized Controlled Trial. In Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. July 2004. Vol. 85. No. 7. Pp. 1056-1062.

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