Mental simulation practices, such as motor imagery, action observation, and guided imagery, have been an intervention of interest in neurological and musculoskeletal rehabilitation. Application of such practices to postoperative patients in orthopedics, particularly after total knee arthroplasty, has resulted in favorable physical function outcomes. In this systematic review and meta-analysis, we wish to determine the effectiveness of mental simulation practices with standard physical therapy compared to standard physical therapy alone in patients who underwent total knee arthroplasty in terms of postoperative pain, physical functions, and patient-reported outcome measures. We identified randomized controlled trials from inception to August 28, 2021, by using the PubMed, Cochrane Library, EMBASE, and Scopus databases. Data collection was completed on August 28, 2021. Finally, eight articles (249 patients) published between 2014 and 2020 were included. The meta-analysis revealed that mental simulation practices caused more favorable results in pain [standardized mean difference = −0.42, 95% confidence interval (CI) (−0.80 to −0.04), P = 0.03], range of motion [0.55, 95% CI (0.06–1.04), P = 0.03], maximal strength of quadriceps [1.21, 95% CI (0.31–2.12), P = 0.009], and 36-Item Short-Form Survey [0.53, 95% CI (0.14–0.92), P = 0.007]. Our data suggest that mental simulation practices may be considered adjunctive to standard physiotherapy after total knee arthroplasty in patients with knee osteoarthritis.
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