Bond University researchers’ breakthrough in knee replacement recovery

April 26, 2019
Janice Dickinson (left) with orthopaedic physiotherapist Larissa Sattler

Janice Dickinson (left) with orthopaedic physiotherapist Larissa Sattler

A $29 set of stationary exercise pedals is set to revolutionise the way patients recover from total knee replacements.

Research led by Bond University found the simple home fitness equipment improved function and reduced pain in patients within two weeks of surgery compared to those undertaking standard rehabilitation.

The study involved 60 total knee replacement patients at Pindara Private Hospital on the Gold Coast and was led by senior orthopaedic physiotherapist Larissa Sattler along with head of Bond University Physiotherapy Dr Wayne Hing and orthopaedic surgeon and Associate Professor Dr Christopher Vertullo.

There are 50,000 knee replacements in Australia every year and the healthcare cost burden is set to increase with an ageing population and rising obesity rates. 

Using the exercise bike instead of expensive and complicated rehabilitation programs could potentially save Australian patients at least $25 million per year.

“We were surprised that it was superior to standard rehabilitation methods,” Mrs Sattler said.

“Those that did the pedalling not only felt better, they could walk faster and further.

“As an orthopaedic physiotherapist and a researcher it is really rewarding to know that our patients are getting the best evidence-based rehabilitation.”

Dr Vertullo said the research would be published this week in the world’s top-ranked orthopaedic journal, the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (JBJS).

“This study shows expensive, complicated rehabilitation programs are not needed after knee replacement, and that a self-directed, simple pedalling program is the best approach by far for patients,” he said.

“It offers a take-home, turn-key solution which is incredibly cost-effective.

“You can buy the pedals at stores like Kmart, people can do it themselves, and they actually do better than more complicated and expensive rehab, which is often more painful in the short term and unnecessary.

“Often patients find the rehabilitation after knee replacement too hard and too confusing and they don’t know where to start.

“It’s also a worry that the rehabilitation is almost more expensive than the knee replacement itself.

“It is amazing when you consider the amount of money spent on rehabilitation that there is actually no research or evidence around what is best until now.”