Historically, postoperative exercise and physical therapy (PT) have been viewed as crucial to a successful outcome following primary total hip arthroplasty (THA). This systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to assess differences in both short- and long-term objective and self-reported measures between primary THA patients with formal supervised physical therapy versus unsupervised home exercises after discharge. A search was conducted of six electronic databases from inception to December 14, 2020, for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing changes from baseline in lower extremity strength (LES), aerobic capacity, and self-reported physical function and quality of life (QoL) between supervised and unsupervised physical therapy/exercise regimens following primary THA. Outcomes were separated into short-term (surgery, closest to 3 months) and long-term (≥6 months from surgery, closest to 12 months) measures. Meta-analyses were performed when possible and reported in standardized mean differences (SMDs) with 95% confidence intervals (CI). Seven studies (N=398) were included for review. No significant differences were observed with regard to lower extremity strength (p=0.85), aerobic capacity (p=0.98), or short-term quality of life scores (p=0.18). Although patients in supervised physical therapy demonstrated improved short-term self-reported outcomes compared to those performing unsupervised exercises, this was represented by a small effect size (SMD 0.23 [95% CI, 0.02-0.44]; p=0.04). No differences were observed between groups regarding long-term lower extremity strength (p=0.24), physical outcome scores (p=0.37), or quality of life (p=0.14). The routine use of supervised physical therapy may not provide any clinically significant benefit over unsupervised exercises following primary THA. These results suggest that providers should reconsider the routine use of supervised physical therapy after discharge.
Chaudhry, Yash P.; Hayes, Hunter; Wells, Zachary; Papadelis, Efstratios; Arevalo, Alfonso; Horan, Timothy; Khanuja, Harpal S; and Deirmengian, Carl, "Unsupervised Home Exercises Versus Formal Physical Therapy After Primary Total Hip Arthroplasty: A Systematic Review" (2022). Orthopedic Surgery Resident Research. 63.