The power of group (physio)therapy
As a new study suggests group physiotherapy after a knee replacement may be more effective than individual physio, Dave Duffy explores why that may be.
Efficiency. If you want to retain an NHS that can do the job required of it, finding new ways to do more with less is at the heart of delivering the service. Just sometimes, that drive for efficiency delivers the win win of advancing the quality of care too.
That appears to have been the case following research published recently that suggests physiotherapy carried out in a group setting for post-knee replacement patients delivers better results than individual physiotherapy.
The survey notes that more research is needed and that only early evidence of clinical relevance was found, but patients reported significantly improved function from physio in the group setting compared with those in a traditional physiotherapy environment.
So why the difference?
The value of physio
After a knee replacement, physiotherapy is essential. As you might expect, post-op, your activity levels will be low and it is physiotherapy that gives your muscles the workout they need to ensure that, as you recover and your activity levels increase, your knee is up to the challenge.
Why should physio in a group setting place anyone at an advantage? The explanation is most likely social rather than medical. A group setting increases competition and motivation. If you can see what the person next to you is capable of, there’s a benchmark you simply don’t have with solo physio. Perhaps it’s the determination not to give in, or the drive to push things just a little further than you otherwise might.
There’s also the feedback you receive from your fellow patients. On your own, you don’t know what your knee is capable of and you don’t know how much is too much. In a group, you can see how others are performing and gauge your own performance accordingly.
As the research paper itself notes, more work is required in this area and it’s undoubtedly rather soon to be making sweeping changes as a result of it, but the early evidence is encouraging. That’s especially the case if this does prove to be a form of physio that saves the NHS money (because you’re working with several patients at once) whilst delivering better results.
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