Physiotherapist Coaching Helps Seniors in Rural Communities after Joint Replacement

Project Lead

Dr. Allyson Jones, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Alberta

Dr. Allyson Jones

The COACH program was run in collaboration with Covenant Health’s Camrose Musculoskeletal Clinic and St. Mary’s Hospital, Trochu.


Older adults living in rural communities often find it challenging to be physically active both before and after knee replacement surgery.   This is often because of the limited availability of rehabilitation services. The COACH program addresses this issue, and is novel because it is an approach to follow patients in rural communities during the long-term recovery after total knee replacement. It breaks down the silo of the hospital to allow the same physiotherapist to follow a patient into the community.

Project Summary

One hundred senior joint replacement patients in rural Alberta will connect with a physiotherapist by phone or email. Patients wear an activity monitor and work with the physiotherapist to monitor activity, set goals and plan actions.

Technically, the COACH study is examining the feasibility of implementing theory-based behavioural coaching intervention delivered by distance to older patients before and after receiving total knee arthroplasty (TKA). By offering coaching with a physiotherapist by distance, the team will determine if this is an effective and practical method to encourage physical activity for rural Albertans.


  1. A summary document of barriers/enablers to promoting physical activity to seniors in rural communities
  2. A toolkit for implementing physiotherapist coaching techniques for seniors in rural communities after joint replacement
  3. Feasibility assessment of the intervention

Impact and Ultimate Success

Rural seniors benefit from physiotherapist coaching after a knee replacement.

Feedback from participants, family members and health care providers will be used to determine whether connecting by distance with physiotherapist support is effective for rural Albertans. A toolkit will be developed to further help seniors become active after joint replacement.

We are currently completing recruitment and will complete data collection in 2019. Based on general feedback from physiotherapists and participants, not everyone benefits from using the technology to be coached by physiotherapists. A successful journey is to identify patients who would benefit from this coaching and implement this service within AHS to offer patients during their long-term recovery after total knee replacements.