A specific inpatient aquatic physiotherapy program improves strength after total hip or knee replacement surgery: a randomized controlled trial.

Rahmann AE, Brauer SG, Nitz JC

The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of inpatient aquatic physiotherapy in addition to usual ward physiotherapy on the recovery of strength, function, and gait speed after total hip or knee replacement surgery. 65 participants undergoing primary hip or knee arthroplasty were randomly assigned to receive supplementary inpatient physiotherapy, beginning on day 4: aquatic physiotherapy, nonspecific water exercise, or additional ward physiotherapy. At day 14, hip abductor strength was significantly greater after aquatic physiotherapy intervention than additional ward treatment or water exercise. No other outcome measures were significantly different at any time point in the trial, but relative differences favoured the aquatic physiotherapy intervention at day 14.

A specific inpatient aquatic physiotherapy program has a positive effect on early recovery of hip strength after joint replacement surgery. This study indicates that aquatic physiotherapy can be safely considered in this early postoperative phase.

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2009 May;90(5):745-55.

Link to Abstract