The authors conducted this study in order to compare the effectiveness of a new interactive virtual telerehabilitation system and a conventional programme after total knee arthroplasty. A total of 142 total knee arthroplasty patients were randomly selected to receive either: (i) conventional out-patient physical therapy; or (ii) interactive virtual telerehabilitation system. The primary outcome was function assessed with active range of knee movement. Additional variables, such as muscle strength, walk speed, pain and the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities osteoarthritis index, were also collected. Comparisons were made on the basis of data collected regularly before surgery, at the end of the rehabilitation programme, and at 3 months follow-up. Quantitative variables were compared by Mann-Whitney U test. The agreed alpha risk for all hypothesis testing was 0.05. Baseline characteristics between groups were comparable. All participants improved after the 2-week intervention on all outcome variables (p < 0.05). Patients in the interactive virtual telerehabilitation group saw improvements in the functional variables similar to those attained in the conventional therapy group.
The study found that a two-week interactive virtual telerehabilitation programme is at least as effective as conventional therapy. They suggest that telerehabilitation is a potentially useful alternative to traditional face-to-face therapies following discharge from total knee arthroplasty, particularly for those patients who face challenges with transportation to rehabilitation centres.