A total hip replacement (THR) can help decrease the pain and loss of functional mobility that often comes with hip osteoarthritis. Patients often attend physical therapy after a THR to help improve lower extremity strength and walking abilty.
A recent study published in the Physical Therapy Journal examined the relationship between preoperative walking function and postoperative function following a THR. The researchers examined over 200 patients who had a total hip replacement. Before surgery, hip abductor and knee extensor strength was measured, and the Timed Up and Go (TUG) test was performed. Six months after the surgery, the patients were grouped into one of two groups based on self-reported walking ability. One group was indepedent walkers, and the other was a cane-assisted walking group.
The results indicated that patients with a TUG score of less than 10 preoperatively were more likely to be independent walkers at the six month period following surgery. The TUG score was also more accurate in predicting walking ability than age and knee extensor strength.
The TUG is a simple test to perform, and it can be done in a few minutes in the PT clinic. If you are considering THR surgery, a visit to your physical therapist to work on functional mobility and strengthening (and improving your TUG score) may be beneficial in helping you walk normally after surgery.