Background: Impaired functional performance and decreased muscle strength and muscle atrophy generally persist for a long period after total hip arthroplasty (THA).
Aim: To investigate the effects of weight-bearing (WB) and non-weight-bearing (NWB) exercises on functional performance, Harris hip score (HHS), muscle strength and muscle thickness in women after THA.
Design: A randomised, controlled trial.
Population: Sixty-five women who had undergone unilateral or bilateral THA at least 6 months before enrolment in the study.
Methods: Participants were randomly allocated to the following groups: WB (n = 22), NWB (n = 21) and control (n = 22) groups. Participants in the WB and NWB groups performed daily home exercise programs for 8 weeks. Functional performance (timed up and go, sit-to-stand, stair climbing, walking speed and 3-min walk test), HHS, isometric muscle strength of the hip and knee muscle and gluteus and quadriceps muscle thickness were measured at baseline and after 8 weeks.
Results: An intention-to-treat analysis revealed that both the intervention groups exhibited significant improvements in almost all functional performance measures compared with the control group. Furthermore, the WB group showed significantly greater pre-post changes in the sit-to-stand and 3-min walk test compared with the NWB group. In terms of HHS, only the WB group showed significantly greater improvement compared with the control group. Relative to the control group, improvements in all isometric strength measures were observed in both the intervention groups. Significant improvement in quadriceps muscle thickness was observed in the WB group compared with the control group. However, no significant difference was observed among the three groups in pre-post changes in gluteus muscle thickness.
Conclusion: WB and NWB home exercise programs were both effective for improving functional performance and muscle strength in women after THA. However, the WB exercise was more effective than the NWB exercise for improving sit-to-stand ability and walking endurance.
Clinical rehabilitation impact: In this study, we demonstrated that the WB exercise was more effective than the NWB exercise for improving functional performance in patients after THA.