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Physical therapy (PT) is an accepted standard of care after total joint arthroplasty (TJA) and essential to maximizing joint functionality and minimizing complications that lead to readmission. However, evidence-based guidelines about appropriate post-discharge rehabilitative care are not well-defined in the orthopedic literature.
We sought to determine the average timing for receiving PT rehabilitation and to evaluate the association between PT rehabilitation timing and unplanned readmission within 90 days of a TJA patient being discharged home from acute care.
This retrospective study examined 11,545 joint procedures using claims data for the years 2008 to 2013. Outcomes were assessed using a population-averaged approach to regression models.
The average time for initiating PT was 4 days for knee arthroplasty and 6 days for hip arthroplasty in patients discharged home from acute care. Most patients (89%) began PT consultation or supervised exercises during the first week after discharge. The type of joint surgery considerably modified the effect of rehabilitation timing on the likelihood of readmission. Later initiation of rehabilitation was associated with a higher probability of 90-day readmission in both knee and hip arthroplasty, with the effect of rehabilitation timing being more pronounced in hip rather than knee arthroplasty 2 weeks post-discharge from acute care.
Timing for initiating PT may be an important modifiable factor that can affect readmission in patients discharged home from acute care after TJA. Further exploration of the role of PT timing along with other factors such as dosage and frequency among such patients is needed.
total joint arthroplasty, physical therapy, readmission
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