Author(s): Walls RJ, McHugh G, OGorman DJ, Moyna NM, OByrne JM
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Supervised preoperative muscle strengthening programmes (prehabilitation) can improve recovery after total joint arthroplasty but are considered resource intensive. Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) has been shown to improve quadriceps femoris muscle (QFM) strength and clinical function in subjects with knee osteoarthritis (OA) however it has not been previously investigated as a prehabilitation modality. METHODS: This pilot study assessed the compliance of a home-based, NMES prehabilitation programme in patients undergoing total knee arthroplasty (TKA). We evaluated its effect on preoperative and postoperative isometric quadriceps femoris muscle (QFM) strength, QFM cross-sectional area (CSA) and clinical function (subjective and objective). Seventeen subjects were recruited with 14 completing the study (NMES group n = 9; Control group n = 5). RESULTS: Overall compliance with the programme was excellent (99\%). Preoperative QFM strength increased by 28\% (p > 0.05) with associated gains in walk, stair-climb and chair-rise times (p < 0.05). Early postoperative strength loss (approximately 50\%) was similar in both groups. Only the NMES group demonstrated significant strength (53.3\%, p = 0.011) and functional recovery (p < 0.05) from 6 to 12 weeks post-TKA. QFM CSA decreased by 4\% in the NMES group compared to a reduction of 12\% in the control group (P > 0.05) at 12 weeks postoperatively compared to baseline. There were only limited associations found between objective and subjective functional outcome instruments. CONCLUSIONS: This pilot study has shown that preoperative NMES may improve recovery of quadriceps muscle strength and expedite a return to normal activities in patients undergoing TKA for OA. Recommendations for appropriate outcome instruments in future studies of prehabilitation in TKA have been provided.
This article was published in BMC Musculoskelet Disord
and referenced in International Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation