A new analysis proves that the benefits of knee and hip rehab continue for months after a stay in an inpatient rehabilitation facility, reports Reuters.

Dr. Kenneth Ottenbacher and his team at the Center for Rehabilitation Sciences at The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston studied 12,199 American patients who received care in an inpatient rehabilitation facility following a knee or hip replacement. Most patients were white females, and the average age was 71. Researchers studied the patients' function prior to surgery, at discharge and three to six months after discharge. The study gauged patients' memory, ability to eat, bathe and ambulate and scored function on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 indicating highest function. The results showed a dramatic improvement in patients' ability to move:

"When it came to their ability to move around, patients entered surgery with an average score of 1.6 on that scale. That improved to 4.2 at discharge and 5.6 a few months later," according to the article.

The 5.6 figure demonstrates that patients keep reaping the benefits of inpatient rehab months after therapy ends. Dr. Ottenbacher claims that "If you can get patients to a certain threshold level, they can do the rest of the rehabilitation on their own."

As the most involved setting of care in therapy, inpatient rehab holds several advantages. Patients receive around-the-clock care and benefit from dedicated nurse and physician attention. Low clinician to patient ratios allow for daily individualized and intensive therapy, which contributes to short lengths of stay so that the patient can return to independence as soon as possible. Inpatient rehabilitation also helps patients avoid readmission to the hospital resulting from complications during treatment.

Dr. Robert Bunning, director of the arthritis program at MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, D.C., said the study supports that "acute rehab is a good investment."

To access the full journal article, visit the Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics here.

By Kindred Hospital Rehabilitation Services