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Early aquatic physical therapy improves function and does not increase risk of wound-related adverse events for adults after orthopedic surgery: a systematic review and meta-analysis

PainSci » bibliography » Villalta et al 2013
Tags: treatment, musculoskeletal medicine, rehab, water, injury, pain problems, controversy, debunkery

Three articles on PainSci cite Villalta 2013: 1. The Complete Guide to Chronic Tension Headaches2. Complete Guide to Frozen Shoulder3. Get in the Pool for Pain

PainSci commentary on Villalta 2013: ?This page is one of thousands in the bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided wherever possible.

A review of 8 tests of aquatic physical therapy after orthopedic surgeries found that it was safe and at least as effective as land-based therapy. Unfortunately, it showed no superiority for swelling and pain, benefits that might be needed to justify the cost and hassle.

~ Paul Ingraham

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

OBJECTIVES: To investigate whether early postoperative aquatic physical therapy is a low-risk and effective form of physical therapy to improve functional outcomes after orthopedic surgery.

DATA SOURCES: Databases MEDLINE, CINAHL, AMED, Embase, and PEDro were searched from the earliest date available until October 2011. Additional trials were identified by searching reference lists and citation tracking.

STUDY SELECTION: Controlled trials evaluating the effects of aquatic physical therapy on adverse events for adults <3 months after orthopedic surgery. Two reviewers independently applied inclusion and exclusion criteria, and any disagreements were discussed until consensus could be reached. Searching identified 5069 potentially relevant articles, of which 8 controlled trials with 287 participants met inclusion criteria.

DATA EXTRACTION: A predefined data extraction form was completed in detail for each included study by 1 reviewer and checked for accuracy by another. Methodologic quality of included trials was assessed independently by 2 reviewers using the PEDro scale.

DATA SYNTHESIS: Pooled analyses were performed using random effects model with inverse variance methods to calculate standardized mean differences (SMDs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) (continuous outcomes) and risk difference and 95% CIs (dichotomous outcomes). When compared with land-based physical therapy, early aquatic physical therapy does not increase the risk of wound-related adverse events (risk difference=.01, 95% CI -.05 to .07) and results in improved performance of activities of daily living (SMD=.33, 95% CI=.07-.58, I(2)=0%). There were no significant differences in edema (SMD=-.27, 95% CI=-.81 to .27, I(2)=58%) or pain (SMD=-.06, 95% CI=-.50 to .38, I(2)=32%).

CONCLUSIONS: After orthopedic surgery aquatic physical therapy improves function and does not increase the risk of wound-related adverse events and is as effective as land-based therapy in terms of pain, edema, strength, and range of motion in the early postoperative period.

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