Newswise — Las Vegas — Avoiding the typical post-surgical precautions after hip replacement surgery — such as avoiding bending the hip past 90 degrees, turning the knee or foot inward and crossing the leg past the middle of the body — may lead to shorter inpatient rehabilitation time and faster overall recovery, according to research presented this week at the Association of Academic Physiatrists Annual Meeting in Las Vegas.

Hip replacement surgery (anterior hip arthroplasty) involves surgical access through the anterior hip capsule. After surgery, patients are typically moved to inpatient rehabilitation where they spend a considerable amount of time learning and practicing precautions to protect their new hip from dislocation. Recently, researchers from Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital in Wheaton, Ill. compared inpatient rehabilitation outcomes between patients who followed these precautions and those who did not.

“We noticed postoperative hip precautions were being dictated by the surgeon’s preference rather than the operative technique,” explains Noel Rao, MD, FAAPM; professor and chairman, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, and former vice president of medical affairs and residency director at Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital, and lead investigator in the study. “Furthermore, surgeons using the same approach in the same surgical group varied on whether they placed patients under restrictions. Some did and some did not, which raised the question – what would be the impact of not having restrictions on hip dislocation rates and length of stay using the anterior surgical method? If reduced restrictions do not increase hip dislocation rates and patients have a shorter length of stay, they could be rehabilitated and reintegrated into the community sooner.”

Dr. Rao’s team looked at the medical records of 68 people who underwent hip replacement surgery and noted each individual’s functional independence measures (called FIM) at admission, daily during their stay and at discharge. FIM scores are often used by healthcare professionals to measure a person’s overall ability to perform certain tasks (e.g., moving, walking, and self-care) independently. The researchers also noted each person’s length of hospital stay and discharge disposition.

Thirty-one patients were admitted to inpatient rehabilitation without post-operative surgical precautions, and 37 were admitted with precautions. The two groups were very similar in age (around 67, on average), and both groups had similar FIM scores when admitted.

At the time of discharge, both groups had made similar progress in their overall FIM scores and their daily FIM improvements, but differed in length of hospital stay. The group who entered rehabilitation without post-operative precautions typically had a three-day shorter stay than those who observed precautions (nine days and 12 days, respectively). Ultimately, this translated to improved FIM efficiency for the group that did not observe precautions, and this group did significantly better in daily motor FIM and overall FIM gains.

“While both groups made similar overall progress during inpatient rehabilitation, the group that did not observe post-operative precautions made gains within a shorter timeframe as they did not have restrictions to follow and therefore did not have to spend time learning and consistently demonstrating hip precautions, which takes some time to accomplish,” explains Dr. Rao of the findings. “The absence of restrictions allowed these patients to improve their FIM scores quicker resulting in a shorter length of hospital stay. Additionally, we anecdotally observed that reduced restrictions do not increase hip dislocation rates.”

Based on this study, Dr. Rao suggests healthcare professionals should not be overly concerned about using hip precautions after anterior approach hip replacement surgery, if the operating surgeon has made a clinical determination that the patient doesn’t need such precautions. Additionally, Dr. Rao suggests patients considering hip replacement should discuss their surgeon’s preference for post-operative precautions and determine if they agree with their surgeon’s method.

Regarding next steps, Dr. Rao explains, “With newer surgical techniques and improved expertise of surgeons, more patients are being discharged home directly following this procedure. This is more evident in patients not requiring hip precautions than in patients who have restrictions. If this trend continues, we may want to look at expanding our existing outpatient therapy programs to accommodate more of these patients.”


The Association of Academic Physiatrists (AAP) is the only academic association dedicated to the specialty of physiatry in the world. AAP is an organization of leading physicians, researchers, in-training physiatrists, and others involved or interested in mentorship, leadership, and discovery in physiatry. AAP holds an Annual Meeting, produces a leading medical journal in rehabilitation, AJPM&R, and leads a variety of programs and activities that support and enhance academic physiatry. To learn more about the Association and the field of physiatry, visit our site at and follow us on Twitter using @AAPhysiatrists. To learn more about the 2017 AAP Annual Meeting, visit

Comparative Inpatient Rehabilitation Outcomes of Anterior Total Hip Arthroplasty: With and Without Post-Operative Surgical Precautions

Noel Rao, MDFAAPMR; Norman Aliga, MD/FAAPMR; Dolly Devara, MD/FAPMR; Susan Brady, DHED, MS, CCC-SLP, BCS-S, ASHA FELLOW; Marcia McKittrick, MPT; Morgan Mroz, BS

Objectives: Anterior hip arthroplasty involves surgical access through the anterior hip capsule exposure is gained without detaching surrounding muscles. Given low dislocation rates post-surgical precautions may not be justifiable. Objective of the study was to compare rehabilitation clinical outcomes based on hip arthroplasty with an anterior surgical approach for patients with and without post-operative surgical precautions.

Design: Observational, descriptive study designParticipants: Sixty-eight patients’ medical records were retrospectively reviewed using a sample of convenience.Main Outcome Measures: Total admission and total discharge functional independence measure (FIM) scores, FIM gain, FIM gain per day, length of stay (LOS), and discharge disposition.

Results: Group 1, n=31, included patients admitted to inpatient rehabilitation without post-operative surgical precautions. Group 2, =37, included patients admitted to inpatient rehabilitation with post-operative surgical precautions. No statistically significant differences was observed between the two groups at admission for age (Group 1 mean age = 66.74 years; Group 2 = 67.30 years; F=.014, p=811) and for admission FIM scores (p=.866), suggesting both groups were similar at admission. At discharge, both groups made similar progress related to overall FIM gain (p=.679) and discharge FIM scores (p=.864).

However, there was a statistically significant difference between the two groups for LOS with the no-precaution group demonstrating approximately a 3 day shorter stay (Group 1=8.97 days; Group 2 = 11.73 days; F=.195, p=.012). This finding translated into improve FIM efficiency for Group 1 with statistically significant differences observed for Motor FIM gain per day for Group 1 = 2.83 and for Group 2=2.0 (F=17.275, p=.007) and for Total FIM gain per day with Group 1=2.90 and Group 2=2.07 (F=15.318, p=.006). Conclusions: Both groups made similar overall progress during inpatient rehabilitation with respect to overall FIM gain and discharge FIM scores. The no-precaution group made gains within a shorter timeframe reflecting improved efficiency with rehabilitation outcomes for the no-precaution group.