Increased exercise prior to hip and knee replacement procedures can reduce the need for inpatient rehabilitation, a study has shown.
Researchers found that patients who had participated in water and land-based exercise three times a week for a six-week period prior to surgery were 73 per cent less likely to be discharged to an inpatient rehabilitation facility after the operation.
In addition, those patients who had exercised in the weeks before their surgery were more likely to be capable of walking more than 50 feet when they were discharged from hospital.
The importance of exercise following a knee or hip replacement has long been recognised but the new study shows that exercise prior to surgery, including strength training, aerobic and flexibility exercises, is also vital for a speedy rehabilitation period.
"Our findings show that an appropriately designed programme of water and land-based exercise involving cardiovascular, strength training and flexibility activities can be a safe, well tolerated, and effective approach to improving function and muscle strength in middle-aged and older adults with severe osteoarthritis of the hip and knee," the authors commented.
The study is published in the October 2006 issue of Arthritis Care and Research.