Janine Dickinson uses the stationary pedals a week after undergoing a total knee replacement, watched over by orthopaedic physiotherapist Larissa Sattler and Dr Christopher Vertullo of Bond University.
Janine Dickinson uses the stationary pedals a week after undergoing a total knee replacement, watched over by orthopaedic physiotherapist Larissa Sattler and Dr Christopher Vertullo of Bond University. Cavan Flynn

Cheap answer to knee replacement recovery

SIMPLE home fitness equipment costing about $29 can improve function and reduce pain in patients within two weeks of knee replacement surgery.

A set of stationary exercise pedals was found by researchers, led by a team from Bond University, to be a more cost effective way to approach rehabilitation. Potentially it could equate to a $25 million a year healthcare saving.

Senior orthopaedic physiotherapist Larissa Sattler said, "We were surprised that it was superior to standard rehabilitation methods".

"Those that did the pedalling not only felt better, they could walk faster and further," she added.

"As an orthopaedic physiotherapist and researcher it is really rewarding to know that our patients are getting the best evidence-based rehabilitation."

Orthopaedic surgeon and Associate Professor Christopher Vertullo said the study of 60 knee replacement patients proved expensive, complicated rehabilitation programs aren't needed after the surgery.

"A self-directed, simple pedalling program is the best approach by far for patients," Dr Vertullo added.

Currently there are 50,000 knee replacements in Australia every year and the healthcare cost burden is expected set to increase with an ageing population and rising obesity rates.

"You can buy the pedals at stores like Kmart, people can do it themselves, and they actually do better than more complicated and expensive rehab, which is often more painful in the short term and unnecessary," Dr Vertullo said.

"Often patients find the rehabilitation after knee replacement too hard and too confusing and they don't know where to start.

"It's also a worry that the rehabilitation is almost more expensive than the knee replacement itself.

"It is amazing when you consider the amount of money spent on rehabilitation that there is actually no research or evidence around what is best until now."



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