Below is a news summary of an orthopaedic research study in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (JBJS), as well as the issues' full Table of Contents. A Structured, Independent Exercise Regimen Can Reduce the Need for Therapy Following Meniscus Surgery
The treatment of meniscus tears in injured workers is associated with less favorable outcomes and higher utilization of clinical services. "Disability, Impairment, and Physical Therapy Utilization in Workers' Compensation Patients after Arthroscopic Partial Meniscectomy," is a study appearing in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (JBJS), which investigates the effects of a recommended, self-regulated exercise program on the number of physical therapy visits and patient outcomes.
- The study reviewed the success of 164 primary arthroscopic meniscectomies (the surgical procedure to remove torn areas of the two, wedge-shaped pieces of cartilage that acts as shock absorbers in the knee joint) on 155 injured workers. The patients in a "control group" receiving traditional supervised physical therapy , were compared to a separate "study group" that received a written referral specifying the exact number of approved physical therapy visits, a kit containing equipment with a booklet illustrating 25 exercises, and the prescribed rehabilitation protocol outlining the philosophy, expected subjective and functional outcomes, and specific weekly goals.
- One year following surgery, there was a 40 percent reduction in the median number of physical therapy visits in the study group, compared to the control group. There was no difference between the two groups in the time before workers were released to light duty, full duty, or claim closure; and no difference in impairment or complication rates.
- The author of the study believes that the results support the implementation of a structured, independent exercise protocol as a way to reduce physical therapy costs without negatively affecting strength, knee motion, or disability rates in workers' compensation patients undergoing arthroscopic meniscectomy.