Mend Physical Therapy Blog and Injury Information

Strength training focus optimizes recovery after total knee replacement

June 21, 2018


The first total knee replacement was performed in the late 1960s and the surgery has become one of the most successful procedures in orthopedics.  Authors estimate up to 600,000 total knee replacements are performed each year to reduce pain and improve function in patients with knee arthritis.  Many of these patients will undergo both pre and post operative Physical Therapy to accelerate the healing process and achievement of functional goals.  A recent study compared two different rehabilitation approaches to patients after a total knee replacement.

Pozzi and colleagues compared patients after a total knee replacement who underwent a traditional physical therapy program against a strength training focused group  (Physiotherapy Theory and Practice. 2018).  Each of these two groups was also compared to their age matched peers who did not undergo the procedure.  Both Physical Therapy groups were seen 2-3 times a week for 12 weeks.  The authors reported lower levels of function in the operative groups compared to the non operative group.  This is consistent with past research indicating patients with are post operative rarely reach the functional levels demonstrated by their asymptomatic peers.  Patients in the strength training focused group demonstrated better range of motion, strength, and stair climbing ability compared to the traditional Physical Therapy approach.  In addition, a greater percentage of the strength training patients reached their functional goals compared to the traditional rehabilitation group.  

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