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Revolutionizing Knee Rehab: Study Shows Virtual Physiotherapy Matches In-Person Success

Written by Andrew Le, MD

UpdatedMay 29, 2024

In the face of evolving healthcare practices, a landmark study from Australia has demonstrated that physiotherapy via video conferencing is just as effective for people with chronic knee pain as traditional in-person consultation. "A Game-Changer for Knee Rehab: Video Sessions on Par with In-Person Care" presents the findings of the PEAK trial, a randomized controlled trial comparing the two methods in Australia's context.

The PEAK trial enrolled 394 adults across 27 clinics, offering insights into the future of musculoskeletal rehabilitation. Participants, who struggled with chronic knee pain indicative of osteoarthritis, were randomized into video conferencing or in-person sessions over three months. The primary focus was pain and physical function, alongside other factors such as satisfaction and safety. Remarkably, 97% of the participants provided data on primary outcomes, with both groups reporting significant pain relief and functional improvements.

Despite the intrusion of the COVID-19 pandemic, telerehabilitation maintained non-inferiority to in-person care and yielded additional benefits. It proved safe and more convenient, leading to better attendance, enhanced therapeutic alliances, and more cost-effective outcomes when considering travel savings. The personal time and travel costs alone amounted to an estimated mean cost saving of $218 over the trial for telerehabilitation participants.

Although the pandemic impeded in-person session attendance, the thorough analysis—considering intention-to-treat and per-protocol—upheld the robustness of results favoring the non-inferiority of telerehabilitation. The high fidelity to treatment protocols across both modalities further strengthens the trial's credibility.

The research, supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council, signals a shift in managing chronic musculoskeletal conditions, potentially making access to rehab services more equitable. To access the study for more detailed information, please visit The Lancet.

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Please note that this summary may not cover all details of the study; for a comprehensive understanding, referencing the full text is recommended.


Hinman, R. S., Campbell, P. K., Kimp, A. J., Russell, T., Foster, N. E., Kasza, J., Harris, A., & Bennell, K. L. (2024). Telerehabilitation consultations with a physiotherapist for chronic knee pain versus in-person consultations in Australia: The PEAK non-inferiority randomised controlled trial. The Lancet, 403, 1267-1278.