Study design: Prospective cohort study.
Objectives: To measure changes in muscle strength, range of motion, and function from 2 weeks before to 6 months after total knee arthroplasty (TKA) and compare outcomes with data from a control group consisting of healthy adults.
Background: Total knee arthroplasty successfully alleviates pain from knee osteoarthritis, but deficits in function can persist long term. How impairments and functional limitations change over the first 6 months after TKA, compared to data from healthy adults, has not been well reported in the literature.
Methods: Twenty-four patients who underwent a primary unilateral TKA were compared to healthy adults (n = 17). All patients participated in a standardized rehabilitation program following surgery. Isometric quadriceps torque was assessed using an electromechanical dynamometer. Range of motion was measured actively and passively. Functional performance was assessed using the stair-climbing test, timed up-and-go test, 6-minute walk test, and single-limb stance time. Patients underwent testing at 2 weeks preoperatively and at 1, 3, and 6 months postoperatively.
Results: Compared to healthy older adults, patients performed significantly worse at all times for all measures (P<.05), except for single-limb stance time at 6 months (P>.05). One month postoperatively, patients experienced significant losses from preoperative levels in all outcomes. Patients recovered to preoperative levels by 6 months postoperatively on all measures, except knee flexion range of motion, but still exhibited the same extent of limitation they did prior to surgery.
Conclusion: The persistent impairments and functional limitations 6 months after TKA with standard rehabilitation suggest that more intensive therapeutic approaches may be necessary to restore function of patients following TKA to the levels of healthy adults.