Home Is Where The Heart Is!
Recently Daily RX reported on a study conducted in Australia and reported on in Arthritis Care and Research. The researchers found that patients had the same ability 6 weeks after surgery to bend or straighten their knee, similar levels of pain, readmission rates and the ability to walk 50 feet whether they followed a monitored exercise program at home or participated in a regular outpatient rehabilitation program.
The main implication of the study is the potential to lower healthcare costs across the board if patients are able to recover at least as well at home as at an outpatient clinic. While I will admit this is an important goal especially as the number of surgeries mushroom with the aging baby-boomers, there are many other excellent reasons to do your primary total knee replacement rehab at home. Click you heels together and say with me- “There is no place like home. There is no place like home.”
Benefits of Home Therapy Versus Facility Care
1. Less Chance of Infection-Better to deal with the bugs you are familiar with than the bugs you are not familiar with. Foot traffic in a rehab facility is high. Visitors come in and out. Staff that you will make contact with include aides, nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists dietary, laundry, and administrative can all unwittingly be carriers for potential germs that can easily get the best of you especially right after surgery when your bodies defenses are down. Knee replacement surgery risks include being more vulnerable to general infections than the normal population. Landing a cold or flu virus 1-2 weeks after your surgery can really throw a wrench into a quick recovery.
2. You’ll Be More Active At Home- Patients who go home do more stuff for themselves. Caregivers at home are rarely able to be of service around the clock. That means you’ll get up and walk more, get some of your own lunches or snacks and get your own ice bag. Of course for the first couple days it ok to get some extra attention and help but after that…that best thing is to start doing for yourself as much as possible so that you can shorten recovery time for knee replacement.
3. You’ll Be Free to Establish Your Own Routine- For dynamic and energetic people there is no worse torture then to be put on someone else schedule, at the whim of busy nurses and staff constantly waiting for responses. When you go to your own home you can blessedly set your own schedule. Want to eat a late breakfast; snack after lunch; or do an extra set of exercises? You are king or queen.
4. Do More Rehabilitation For Your Knee and Less for Your Arms-For the majority of people who have nothing wrong with their upper extremities, wasting time on arm exercises (with OT) is stealing rehab time that could have been better spent on the primary problem- your knee.
5. Eat The Food You Are Used To- Nothing can be worse than eating food you don’t like or your body is not used to when you are in recovery mode. Of course if you usually cook and your spouse can’t cook worth a hill of beans you can still make up meals ahead of time to freeze so that no fuss home cooked meals are ready at your disposal when you get back from the hospital.
Benefits of Home Therapy Versus Outpatient Rehabilitation Care
1. Less Chance of Infection- The same rationale holds here as above. The more foot traffic the more potential for infection no matter how hard the facility tries to keep things clean and bug-free.
2. Decreased Cost- For many the co-pays don’t kick in till you start going to outpatient and using Medicare B and even many insurances provide for a certain amount of home care visits per year without additional co-pays. The costs can really add up as you pay out more and more for your recovery after knee replacement surgery.
3. No Need For Someone To Drive You- There is no doubt that your knee replacement rehab will progress faster using narcotic pain pills at least for the first two weeks. This means you need a driver to get the outpatient facility safely and legally. This can be hugely problematic for spouses who are still working age.
4. Do More Rehabilitation For Your Knee- While most outpatient facilities will thankfully focus on your knee and not your arms, the reality is that once you get done with your “monster session”, you are very unlikely to do any other exercises before or after. Frequency is one of the most important principles that lead to early and speedy range of motion recovery. People utilizing this mode of recovery tend to delegate responsibility to the “experts” and they feel less qualified and competent to own their own rehab progress and success.
5. Less Tempted To Overdo Walking- Going out and about especially in the first two weeks, most patients find it tempting to stop for lunch on the way home or to grab a few things at the grocery store. These are really bad ideas and most will learn the hard way after they suffer increase pain after knee replacement surgery, a setback no one wants to deal with.
Home really is the best place to begin your recovery; get back to comfortable surroundings, establish your own routine and focus in on your task with a defined program away from unnecessary distractions and unwanted delays.
Watch the FREE Video Series How to Speed Your Recovery After A Knee Replacement