The Utilization of Formal Physical Therapy After Shoulder Arthroplasty

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2018 Nov;48(11):856-863. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2018.8176. Epub 2018 May 8.


Background: It is widely believed that structured rehabilitation programs by professional therapists help guide patients through the various recovery periods after shoulder arthroplasty, speeding up their recovery and improving their final functional gains. However, to our knowledge, there are no studies providing information about the current state of physical rehabilitation use after shoulder arthroplasty.

Objectives: To describe the variation in physical rehabilitation utilization after total shoulder arthroplasty (TSA) and reverse shoulder arthroplasty (RSA), and to identify differences in utilization based on type of insurance (private versus public), sex, age, and region of the country.

Methods: This epidemiological retrospective database study utilized a commercially available database, PearlDiver, with longitudinal patient tracking linking all patients' Current Procedural Terminology and International Classification of Diseases-Ninth Revision codes to their specific records to analyze patterns of physical rehabilitation usage after TSA and RSA in the United States. Two main patient populations were analyzed within the PearlDiver database, the Humana private insurance population and the Medicare insurance population. The period analyzed was 2010 to 2015.

Results: There was significantly higher utilization of physical rehabilitation in the Humana population when compared to the Medicare population (P<.001, Cramer's V = 0.270). In the Humana population, 36% of patients had 5 or fewer physical rehabilitation visits in the 6 months following their operation, while in the Medicare population, 56% of patients had 5 or fewer physical rehabilitation visits in the same period. Those with TSA had a higher utilization rate than those with RSA in the Humana (P<.001, V = 0.104; TSA, 31% had 5 or fewer physical rehabilitation visits; RSA, 40% had 5 or fewer physical rehabilitation visits within 6 months) and Medicare populations (P<.001, V = 0.135; TSA, 51% had 5 or fewer physical rehabilitation visits; RSA, 61% had 5 or fewer physical rehabilitation visits within 6 months).

Conclusion: Postoperative utilization of physical rehabilitation after anatomic TSA and RSA is markedly higher in privately insured patients than in patients with Medicare, regardless of age, sex, diagnosis, or region of country. These findings have important implications, from the individual patient's experience and outcomes to system-wide resource utilization.

Level of evidence: Economic and decision analyses, level 4. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2018;48(11):856-863. Epub 8 May 2018. doi:10.2519/jospt.2018.8176.

Keywords: physical therapy; reverse total shoulder; surgical rehabilitation; total shoulder.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Shoulder / rehabilitation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insurance Coverage
  • Insurance, Health
  • Male
  • Medicare
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States