At-Home Physical Therapy Leads to Better Recovery in Post-Surgical Patients, Study Shows

At-home physical therapy provider Luna released a new study on Tuesday detailing the efficacy of its post-surgery rehabilitation program. The study, which was conducted by the startup, demonstrated that the Luna Pathways program did a good job of reducing patients’ pain, increasing care plan adherence, and decreasing avoidable hospital readmissions and emergency department visits.

Founded in 2018, Nashville-based Luna operates in 27 states and employs 3,000 physical therapists. Using the company’s platform, surgeons can refer patients to the Luna Pathways at-home physical therapy program, and patients typically schedule their first visit within 72 hours of their surgery.

For the study, Luna reviewed the medical records of 456 patients who took part in its rehabilitation program after undergoing a total hip or knee replacement surgery in 2022. 

The program is designed to deliver coordinated postoperative care in patients’ homes and ensure that they are meeting the recovery timelines that their surgeons have established. To ensure consistent and quality care, the same therapist treats the patient for the entirety of their care plan. Luna’s app also allows patients to communicate with their physical therapist and discuss their care needs between visits. 

“It’s unique as it’s the most technology-enabled program of its kind,” claimed Palak Shah, Luna’s co-founder and head of clinical services, in an interview. “It doesn’t rely on paper handouts or staff members remembering to notify/monitor certain events. Therapists are prompted during the visit to answer specific questions, and those answers are automatically escalated, when appropriate, to the surgeon’s team.”

The program accepts commercial insurance and Medicare, as well as offers a self-pay option.

According to Luna’s study, the average number of visits completed by a patient in the Luna Pathways program is 14.5, and 64% of patients in the program completed at least 10 visits. During intake and then after every five visits, Luna’s therapists collect patients’ progress data. 

Luna patients’ self-reported pain levels were almost 30% less than industry benchmarks for patients at 90 days post-surgery. Patients in Luna’s program also had superior range of motion in their knees — their knee joint’s range of motion was 119.5 degrees, compared to a 90-day postoperative industry standard of 110 degrees. 

The Luna Pathways program also improved patients’ adherence to their care plans. Luna patients were 18% more likely to complete more than 10 visits compared to patients receiving physical therapy at clinics, according to the study. 

Additionally, the study said the program decreased costs associated with hospital readmissions and emergency department visits, as Luna therapists were able to quickly escalate patients’ medical concerns to their physician. The study said that 5.6% of all total hip and knee replacement patients end up readmitted to the hospital within 90 days, which results in costs ranging from  $10,000 to $27,000. It also said that about 15% of patients visit the emergency department within 30 days of a total joint replacement surgery, even though most of these cases could have been treated in a doctor’s office. Luna did not provide information on how many of the patients in its program went to the emergency room or were readmitted to the hospital, though.

Luna faces two classes of competitors, Shah said. The first are virtual physical therapy startups like Sword Health and Hinge Health. Instead of sending therapists to patients’ homes, these companies deliver virtual care, which is not very well-suited for physical therapy, he pointed out. Luna also competes with traditional physical therapy clinics, but the startup offers patients much more convenience because they don’t have to travel to a facility for care, Shah explained.

Photo: Luna