Preparing for Your Total Joint Replacement

It has probably been a long time coming, but now you have decided to have a total joint replacement. Regardless of the joint you plan to have replaced, there are some items to keep in mind as you prepare yourself and your home for after surgery.

  1. Plan on going home when you leave the hospital. Patients heal faster at home because they are more active and comfortable in their own environment.
  2. Plan on having Physical Therapy after surgery. Every physician is different so it is good to discuss with your physician their rehab plan for after surgery.
  3. Line up someone who can stay with you for at least 24-48 hours to help get you situated at home. Also, plan to have someone you can call after that if you would need anything (ex. a ride to your physician or physical therapy appointments).
  4. Discuss with your physician what his or her goals are for you. Discuss when you can drive again, when you can return to certain activities (ex. golf, fishing), precautions for your type of surgery (ex. range of motion goals, activity precautions) and how long will your precautions last?
  5. At home, remove any tripping hazards like rugs and cords. Make sure you have a clear path to everything you will need to access in your home.
  6. Examine your home. Count the number of steps/stairs you have. Do they have a reliable handrail to assist with support? If not, consider getting one – it will help you access your home easier.
  7. Measure the height of your bed, bath tub/shower, and toilets. You will practice these activities in the hospital and practice as close as possible to your home environment.
  8. Have a plan for meals.
  9. Have a plan for your pets. Set up a plan for someone to assist in the care of your pets while you are not as mobile.
  10. Check with your insurance company on what assistive devices (ex. walkers) and adaptive equipment (ex. shower chair) they cover. Also, if they require preauthorization, any additional paperwork or documentation needed for them to cover the equipment. Do they have preferred providers?

At OrthoNebraska we offer weekly Joint Classes to patients who are scheduled for total hip, total knee or total shoulder replacements. At these classes, we go over many of the above items in detail and answer patient-specific questions in an effort to make you feel extremely prepared for your joint replacement.

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