Rehabilitation protocols following total knee arthroplasty: a review of study designs and outcome measures
Total knee arthroplasty (TKA) is among the most common elective procedures performed worldwide. Recent efforts have been made to significantly improve patient outcomes, specifically with postoperative rehabilitation. Despite the many rehabilitation modalities available, the optimal rehabilitation strategy has yet to be determined. Therefore, this systematic review focuses on evaluating existing postoperative rehabilitation protocols. Specifically, this review analyses the study designs, rehabilitation methods, and outcome measures of postoperative rehabilitation protocols for TKA recipients in the past five years. The PubMed, EMBASE, and Cochrane Library databases were queried for studies evaluating rehabilitation protocols following primary TKA. Of the 11,013 studies identified within the last five years, 70 met the inclusion and exclusion criteria. After assessing for relevance and removing duplicates, a final count of 20 studies remained for analysis. Level-of-evidence was determined by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) classification system. Our findings demonstrated that continuous passive motion and inpatient rehabilitation may not provide additional benefit to the patient or healthcare system. However, early rehabilitation, telerehabilitation, outpatient therapy, high intensity, and high velocity exercise may be successful forms of rehabilitation. Additionally, weight-bearing biofeedback, neuromuscular electrical stimulation, and balance control appear to be beneficial adjuncts to conventional rehabilitation. Postoperative rehabilitation following TKA facilitates patient recovery and improves quality of life. This systematic review analyzed the existing rehabilitation protocols from the past five years. Some studies did not accurately describe the conventional rehabilitation protocols, the duration of therapy sessions, and the timing of these sessions. As such, future studies should explicitly describe their methodology. This will allow high-quality assessments and the conception of standardized protocols.