BMC health services research 2016 Nov 416(1) 627
Comprehensive and timely rehabilitation for total joint arthroplasty (TJA) is needed to maximize recovery from this elective surgical procedure for hip and knee arthritis. Administrative data do not capture the variation of treatment for rehabilitation across the continuum of care for TJA, so we conducted a survey for physiotherapists to report practice for TJA across the continuum of care. The primary objective was to describe the reported practice of physiotherapy for TJA across the continuum of care within the context of a provincial TJA clinical pathway and highlight possible gaps in care.
A cross-sectional on-line survey was accessible to licensed physiotherapists in Alberta, Canada for 11 weeks. Physiotherapists who treated at least five patients with TJA annually were asked to complete the survey. The survey consisted of 58 questions grouped into pre-operative, acute care and post-acute rehabilitation. Variation of practice was described in terms of number, duration and type of visits along with goals of care and program delivery methods.
Of the 80 respondents, 26 (33 %) stated they worked in small centres or rural settings in Alberta with the remaining respondents working in two large urban sites. The primary treatment goal differed for each phase across the continuum of care in that pre-operative phase was directed at improving muscle strength, functional activities were commonly reported for acute care, and post-acute phase was directed at improving joint range-of-motion. Proportionally, more physiotherapists from rural areas treated patients in out-patient hospital departments (59 %), whereas a higher proportion in urban physiotherapists saw patients in private clinics (48 %). Across the continuum of care, treatment was primarily delivered on an individual basis rather than in a group format.
Variation of practice reported with pre-and post-operative care in the community will stimulate dialogue within the profession as to what is the minimal standard of care to provide patients undergoing TJA.