09 December 2015

hospital staff show patient x-ray of hip replacementThe impact of hip and knee replacements on day-to-day function is the focus of a new UniSA study.

With more than 3000 hip replacements and around 4000 knee replacements performed in South Australia so far this year, School of Health Sciences researcher and physiotherapy lecturer Dr Julie Walters wants to find out how joint replacements affect people’s activity levels and quality of life.

Dr Walters says the number of joint replacements performed in South Australia continues to rise each year and the figures have more than doubled in the past decade.

“Anecdotally we hear that people are having them done to reduce pain and increase their ability to participate in functional and other activities,” she says.

“But we also hear that after surgery, people’s participation hasn’t changed as much as they’d hoped or expected it to. This research will help us to find out how much joint replacement does improve day-to-day function so people have all the information they need before deciding to have it done.”

Dr Walters says in the public health system, the wait for joint replacement surgery can be up to three years.

“That’s from the time your doctor sends you to the surgeon, to actually having a hip or knee replacement,” she says.

“Before that, people are usually on medication to help with the pain and gradually reduce their activities so they don’t aggravate the joint as much. Of course, doing less means other areas of the body are affected, muscles get weaker and fitness drops, so the affected joint has a significant and lasting impact on people’s pre-operative quality of life.

“After surgery, recovery is getting better and better in terms of getting home faster and, for most people, having less pain. What we’re not sure of is whether that translates into being more active and being able to participate more in activity.”

The research team is looking for about 50 people who are going to have a hip or knee replacement in the next six months to take part in the study. Participants will be required to answer some telephone and paper questionnaires about their pain and how they use their time before and after surgery.

Anyone interested in taking part can phone Dr Walters on 8302 2587 or email Julie.walters@unisa.edu.au

Contact for interview: Dr Julie Walters office (08) 8302 2587 email Julie.walters@unisa.edu.au

Media contact: Kelly Stone office 8302 0963 mobile 0417 861 832 email Kelly.stone@unisa.edu.au

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