Background: Surgery for degenerative foot and ankle conditions often results in a lengthy recovery. Current outcome measures do not accurately assess postoperative mobility, especially in older patients. The Life-Space Assessment (LSA), a questionnaire quantifying patients' mobility after a medical event, was used in this study to assess perioperative mobility in total hip arthroplasty (THA) and foot and ankle surgery patients. We hypothesized that patients undergoing elective foot and ankle surgery would have greater postoperative mobility limitation than THA patients.
Methods: Preoperative, 3-month, and 6-month postoperative LSA data were collected from THA and foot and ankle cohorts. Twelve-month postoperative data were obtained for the foot and ankle group as well. Patient demographics were recorded, and data were analyzed using a Mann-Whitney U test.
Results: Twenty-eight degenerative foot and ankle operative patients and 38 THA patients met inclusion criteria. Only patients aged ≥60 years were included in this study. The mean preoperative LSA score was lower in the foot and ankle group (68.8) compared with THA (74.0), although the difference was not statistically significant (P = .602). THA patients showed a significant increase in LSA score from preoperative (74) to 6 months postoperation (95.9) (P = .003); however, foot and ankle patients showed no significant difference between preoperative (68.8) and 6-month (61.2) scores (P = .468). Twelve months postoperatively, foot and ankle patients showed improvement in LSA score (88.3) compared with preoperation (P = .065).
Conclusion: Compared with THA, recovery of mobility after foot and ankle surgery was slower. THA patients exhibited improved mobility as early as 3 months after surgery, whereas foot and ankle patients did not show full improvement until 12 months. This work will assist the foot and ankle specialist in educating patients about challenges in mobility during their recovery from surgery.
Level of evidence: Level II, prospective cohort study.
Keywords: Life-Space; ankle surgery; foot surgery; mobility; postoperative rehabilitation; total hip arthroplasty.