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More Research Points To Better Quality Of Life After Knee Replacement Surgery

March 15, 2010

Severe osteoarthritis that has resulted in worn cartilage interferes with balance in older people and increases the tendency to fall. According to a study just presented at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), total knee replacement (TKR) successfully relieves pain and improves function in patients with advanced knee arthritis and significantly improves balance among elderly patients. The study, authored by Leonid Kandel, MD, orthopaedic surgeon in the department of orthopaedic surgery at Hadassah Mount Scopus Hospital in Jerusalem, Israel, looked to see if the benefits of TKR extended to balance and quality of life. "Balance is critical to the elderly, especially those with knee problems,” said Dr Kandel. Falls are the leading cause of injury for senior adults in the US, and hip fractures that result from falls can be lethal for the elderly. “This study reinforced our hypothesis about how an osteoarthritic patient's function is compromised not only due to pain, but also by balance." The study examined 63 patients (mean age of 73) who had total knee replacements and participated in follow-up evaluations after one year. The study measured static and dynamic balance with a new computerized system called the Balance Master and found significant improvement in dynamic balance one year after surgery and significant progress in balance-determined motor tests. One year after surgery, the correlation between patients' improved balance and their ability to walk and perform daily activities was stronger than the correlation between their reduced pain and their ability to walk and do daily activities. "We are learning that pain relief may not be the only benefit that improves function after knee replacement," explained Dr. Kandel. "This improved balance is a significant quality-of-life change in elderly patients." If you or a loved one is considering knee replacement, the AAOS suggests you talk to your orthopedic surgeon about the rehabilitation process and ways to improve balance following surgery. You can find more information at http://www.orthoinfo.org. ;