If you are in the planning phases of an upcoming joint replacement surgery, you should know that what happens during your recovery period is crucial to getting the highest level of benefit from your procedure. For that reason, being well-prepared for the recovery process is just as important as preparing for the surgery itself. So what should you be doing to ensure that you emerge from surgery well-prepared to make your best recovery? Here are 4 ways to prepare for recovery:
1. Plan ahead for solid short term rehabilitation services
Making a commitment to good rehabilitation therapy after joint replacement surgery is essential to making your best and quickest recovery. Planning that therapy well in advance gives you time to research options in your area to ensure that you have the information you need to choose the best short term rehab program for your needs. This is especially important if you will be using an intensive inpatient short term rehabilitation program to hasten your recovery, since making your arrangements early ensures that your room will be ready and waiting for you when it is time for hospital discharge.
2. Take steps to prepare your body for optimal recovery
Going into your joint replacement in the best shape possible promotes faster healing, recovery and rehabilitation afterwards. Steps you can take to prepare your body for a good recovery include eating a healthy, well-balanced diet in the weeks leading up to surgery, ensuring that your body has the energy and nutrients it needs for optimal healing. Exercise is important as well, and the best physical preparation can be done by seeing a physical therapist to aid you in improving the strength, flexibility and function of the muscles and connective tissues that will soon be surrounding your new prosthetic joint. Additionally, if you have health issues—diabetes or hypertension, for instance—work with your doctor to optimize control of those issues before surgery.
3. Learn about your surgery and what to expect as you recover
Joint replacement surgery is a serious procedure and recovery is hard, time-consuming work. Being mentally prepared for that reality is key to staying motivated as you work to reap the benefits—reduced pain, increased mobility and improved quality of life—that these procedures have to offer. Your surgeon is the best source for information on the procedure itself, and your healthcare team can refer you to a local joint replacement class to learn about the recovery and rehabilitation process.
4. Prepare your home
Making some home preparations before your procedure can make life much easier as you recover from joint replacement surgery. Things to see to in advance include ensuring that there is a clear path, wide enough to accommodate a walker or crutches, throughout your home. Tripping hazards, such as throw rugs, loose carpet edges or unsecured electrical wires, for example, should be removed. Required safety equipment, such as bathroom grab bars, raised toilet seats or shower chairs, should be installed before surgery.
Finally, make sure you have arrangements made in advance of surgery for the help you will need at home afterwards. If you will be going directly home after surgery, you will need someone to stay with you for the first week or more to help you with personal care, household tasks, errands, and transportation to medical and therapy appointments. Even if your return home is delayed until after you have had an inpatient short term rehab stay and are in better shape, having someone on hand to help you get settled in when you get home is wise.