Date of Award

Spring 2003

Document Type




First Advisor

Thomas Hamilton

Second Advisor

Anne Perkins

Third Advisor

Jacqueline Brehe


This study explored the psychological factor of locus of control and how it may relate to short-term recovery from total knee replacement. A group of ten patients (aged 49-74 years) undergoing total knee replacement received a preoperative psychological assessment. Each patient, prior to surgery, completed the Rotter’s locus of control inventory. External vs. internal locus of control was identified from each completed inventory. The post-operative outcome was assessed in terms of the number of days it took to attain key physical therapy milestones such as unassisted straight leg raise repetitions, 90-degree leg bend, and number of hours spent completing continuous passive motion prior to hospital discharge. These dependent variables were evaluated using physical therapist- evaluated progress, a continuous passive motion (CPM) machine, and a goniometer to measure joint angles and patients’ range of motion. A positive increase in internal locus of control was associated with a shorter recovery time to achieve a straight leg raise, higher degrees of 90-degree leg bend improvement, and more hours on the CPM machine. It is concluded that locus of control appears to be useful in the rehabilitation process and this psychological variable could be gainfully integrated into a pre-operative assessment for total knee replacement.