An exercise program designed by researchers at the University of Louisville for patients with severe knee arthritis improves leg strength and patients' functional ability before knee replacement surgery, according to recent report in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
The study, led by UofL's Ann Swank, Ph.D., CSCS, and Robert Topp, Ph.D., R.N., says gains from exercise before knee replacement or prehabilitation may translate into improved recovery after surgery.
"We designed this program to be easily transferred to a home environment," Swank said. "It is very possible for many patients preparing for knee replacement surgery to participate in this exercise program and experience increased strength and functionality such as getting up from a chair or climbing stairs."
However, Swank noted the prehabilitation program did not significantly improve functional tasks such as walking speed or going downstairs.
The study included 71 patients scheduled for knee replacement surgery because of severe osteoarthritis that could not be managed with pain medications. Osteoarthritis of the knee is a very common condition in older adults, causing pain and gradual declines in the ability to perform everyday tasks. When pain becomes so severe that medications no longer provide relief, knee replacement surgery is the only option. By that time, reduced leg strength may be present for several yearsnot only decreasing functional ability, but increasing the risk of falls.
One group of participants was randomly assigned to a comprehensive prehabilitation program, consisting of light resistance training, flexibility and step exercise, and light walking.
Patients in this "pre-rehab" group exercised three times per week, in the clinic and at home, for four to eight weeks before knee replacement surgery. Patients in the comparison group received standard preoperative care, with instructions to continue their u
|Contact: Julie Heflin|
University of Louisville