The aim of the present study was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of non-supervised home-based exercise versus individualized and supervised programs delivered in clinic-based settings for the functional recovery immediately after discharge from a primary TKA. Medline, Embase, Cochrane, and PEDro databases were screened, from inception to April 2015, in search for randomized clinical trials (RCT) of home-based exercise interventions versus individualized and supervised outpatient physical therapy after primary TKA. Target outcomes were: knee range of motion (ROM), patient-reported pain and function, functional performance, and safety. Risk of bias was assessed with the PEDro scale. After assessing homogeneity, data were combined using random effects meta-analysis and reported as standardized mean differences or mean differences. We set a non-inferiority margin of four points in mean differences. The search and selection process identified 11 RCT of moderate quality and small sample sizes. ROM active extension data suitable for meta-analysis was available from seven studies with 707 patients, and ROM active flexion from nine studies with 983 patients. Most studies showed no difference between groups. Pooled differences were within the non-inferiority margin. Most meta-analyses showed significant statistical heterogeneity.
Short-term improvements in physical function and knee ROM do not clearly differ between outpatient physiotherapy and home-based exercise regimes in patients after primary TKA; however, this conclusion is based on a meta-analysis with high heterogeneity.