Web-based, Self-directed Physical Therapy after Total Knee Arthroplasty is Safe and Effective for Most, but not All, Patients

Mitchell R. Klement, MD, Mitchell R. Klement, Alexander J. Rondon, MD, Richard M. McEntee, BS, Max R. Greenky, MD, Matthew S. Austin, MD

Read the original publication here: PubMed




Recently, self-directed physical therapy (SDPT) programs have gained popularity following total knee arthroplasty (TKA). This study evaluated the safety and efficacy of the routine use of an SDPT program in a nonselect patient population.


This is a single-surgeon, retrospective study of 296 consecutive patients from August 2016 to October 2017 discharged home after primary, unilateral TKA and enrolled in a web-based SDPT program. Patients were seen 2 weeks after surgery and outpatient physical therapy (OPPT) was prescribed if flexion was less than 90°, upon patient request, or inability to use the web-based platform.


Overall, 195 of 296 (65.9%) patients did not require OPPT (SDPT-only) while 101 of 296 were prescribed OPPT (34.1%, SDPT + OPPT). In SDPT + OPPT, 66.3% were for flexion <90°, 27.7% by patient request, 5.0% received a prescription but did not attend OPPT, and 1.0% due to inability to use the web-based platform. The rate of manipulation under anesthesia was 2.36% overall (SDPT + OPPT, 6.93%; SDPT-only, 0.0%). Multivariate analysis identified elevated Charlson comorbidity index, elevated body mass index, higher preoperative SF12 mental score, and loss of flexion at 2 weeks as independent predictors associated with the need for OPPT.


Web-based SDPT is safe and effective for most patients eligible for home discharge after TKA. It is difficult to preoperatively predict those patients who will require OPPT; therefore, we recommend close follow-up. It is critical to preserve these services for patients who require them after TKA as up to a third of patients required OPPT.

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