A well-known adage in real estate is, “Location, location, location.” Does that also apply when it comes to physical therapy treatment after a total knee replacement (TKR)? Apparently, it does, according to a recent study.

The study, partially funded by the Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), suggests that where patients receive physical therapy following TKR may affect how much the therapy costs, how many visits the patients need, and the quality of care the patients receive.

Researchers Jean M. Mitchell, PhD, James D. Reschovsky, PhD, and Elizabeth Anne Reicherter, PT, DPT, PhD, examined whether the course of physical therapy treatments received by patients who undergo TKR surgery varies depending on whether the orthopedic surgeon has a financial stake in physical therapy services, often called physician self-referral.

After reviewing 3,771 TKR patients, the study investigators concluded that physical therapists not involved with physician-owned clinics saw patients for fewer visits and provided more individualized care at a lower out-of-pocket cost, according to a news story by Joint Motion Physical Therapy.

Specifically, the study found that TKR patients who were treated in a clinic owned by their orthopedic surgeon received an average of 8.3 more (or twice as many) physical therapy visits than those who were treated in a clinic in which their orthopedic surgeon had no financial stake, the news story continues.

The article further suggests that the rehab program in a physician self-referral clinic may often be heavily focused on group therapy sessions. In such a setting, the PT may not be able to observe and address each patient’s deficits. However, the article adds, patients treated in an individualized physical therapy program may recover sooner and receive better care.

The study was published in the journal Health Services Research.

[Source: Joint Motion Physical Therapy]