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A New York Times article sheds light on recent evidence suggesting that those undergoing hip or knee replacement will do just as well with home therapy compared to inpatient rehabilitation following surgery.
The rate of joint replacements has nearly doubled from 2000 to 2010, when an estimated 693,400 total knee replacements were performed.
The issue of home rehab is particularly important to those who live alone. Nonetheless, recent research suggests that the majority recover equally well if they go home and get outpatient rehabilitation, as opposed to weeks of inpatient rehab.
A new Australian study compared 81 knee replacement patients who received 10 days of inpatient rehabilitation, followed by an eight-week home-based program against 84 patients got only the home-based rehab program. Six months after their surgery, there was no difference in mobility, pain, function or quality of life between those who got inpatient rehab and groups that got outpatient rehab.
It turns out that for many of these orthopedic patients more than half of the cost of total joint replacements is incurred during the postoperative period, with inpatient rehab costs being considerabily higher than outpatient rehab costs.
Such a change could reduce the overall costs by more than $10,000 per patient.
Moreover, those with outpatient rehabs are far less likely to have adverse events, including infections, DVT, etc.