Patients in walking rehabilitation program improve function after THA

A Norweigan walking skills training program has significantly increased physical performance in patients undergoing rehabilitation after total hip arthroplasty, according to a study published in Arthritis Care & Research.

After 5 months, 66% of the patients in the training group were able to walk 164 feet or more where only 15% of the control group had reached that mobility level. By 12 months, the 35 patients in the training group had an overall greater improvement in both walking distance and stair climbing exercises over the 33 patients in the control group, according to a news release.

“The training program was well tolerated by patients and no complications were report[ed]. Our findings suggest physical rehabilitation helps improve mobility and function in patients who received hip replacements,” Kristi E. Heiberg, RPT, MSc, stated in the release.

Researchers randomly selected 88 patients between October 2008 and March 2010 from two Oslo hospitals to either join the training program or enter the control group. Led by a physical therapist twice a week over 12 sessions, patients practiced walking over obstacles, walking with turns, sitting to standing and climbing stairs in the program. The exercises in the 70-minute session were developed to improve walking endurance, coordination, balance, strength and flexibility.

  • Heiberg KE, Bruun-Olsen V, Ekeland A, Mengshoel AM. Effect of a walking skill training programme in patients who have undergone total hip arthroplasty—with follow-up one year after surgery. Arthrit Care Res. 2011. [Published online before print.] doi: 10.1002/acr.20681.

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