People who undergo total knee replacements often adopt a forward-bending way of going from sitting to standing, a new study has found. This motion can increase the strain on the non-injured leg and possibly set patients up for future injuries.
To prevent this from happening, physical therapy after surgery -- aimed at retraining this action -- could be helpful, say the study's authors, from the University of Delaware.
Using infrared cameras and other devices, the researchers assessed how 12 subjects with a recent knee replacement and 12 controls went from a seated to a standing position. Participants were tested at three months after surgery, and one year after surgery.
Even after a year, knee patients bent forward significantly more than the control group, says senior author Lynn Snyder-Mackler, professor of physical therapy at the University of Delaware. The motion is kind to the knee but places added strain on the hip and on the opposite leg. "One of the things that happens after total knee or total hip" surgery, says Snyder-Mackler, "is that you end up with problems on the other side, both the hip and the knee." One solution, she says, is for the patient to work with his or her physical therapist on a sitting-to-standing motion that is not bent as far forward.
The study appeared last month in the journal Physical Therapy.