A new study published in Clinical Rheumatology by PhD candidate Lyndon Hawke examined whether exercise delivered in a group setting in the early stage of outpatient rehabilitation influenced self-reported physical activity levels after hip or knee joint replacement.
Those with osteoarthritis often fail to meet recommended physical activity levels following a knee or hip replacement. Low activity places patients at greater risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality, leading researchers to investigate rehabilitation methods that encourage physical activity.
The benefits of physical activity in the general population is obvious, but in patients following joint replacement, it improves physical joint function and pain. The challenge is ensuring that participants maintain physical activity levels post-operation.
Rehabilitation following surgery is typically delivered in personalised one-on-one sessions that focus on improving functionality and pain. However, ensuring sustained physical activity levels after a joint replacement should be equally important for patients.
The study found that group-based activities does improve physical activity post-surgery for the duration that they participated in the program. Group-based therapy appeared favourable compared to exercising alone: greater group cohesion, socialisation, working towards a common goal, better perception of exercise and enjoying the time spent. The social support boosted confidence, motivation and self-efficacy to continue daily physical activity. Interestingly, it was males that responded well to the therapy!
However the effects appear to last as long as the program continues. Upon discharge, the authors found that physical activity levels did not increase beyond the program, although their physical function did improve. This is indicative that better strategies are required to ensure participants sustain physical activity levels beyond the duration of a rehabilitation program.