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Examiner
  • A joint's journey is rarely an easy one

  • You’re likely familiar with the expression, “The longest journey begins with the first step.” In successful joint surgery, that first step, be it hip or knee replacement, begins long before the surgeon ever lays hands on the patient. In fact, many surgeons today are becoming less enthusiastic about operat...
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  • You’re likely familiar with the expression, “The longest journey begins with the first step.” In successful joint surgery, that first step, be it hip or knee replacement, begins long before the surgeon ever lays hands on the patient. In fact, many surgeons today are becoming less enthusiastic about operating on a patient who doesn’t fully intend to prepare, and follow through with, the process of joint replacement procedures. Why?
    For all the technology available to medicine today, for all the skill a surgeon can attain, the success of such procedures is almost entirely dependent upon the patient. Joint replacement patients must be willing to commit themselves to hard work before and after the surgery. Patients who don’t commit themselves and work at recovery have a higher risk for complications. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, infections develop in about one to three out of every 100 patients who have surgery. Furthermore, the National Center for Biotechnology Information reports that unplanned readmissions within 180 days happen in more than eight percent of joint replacements.
    Possibly the biggest challenge in this equation is communication. It’s vital that patients know what to expect and what’s expected of them throughout the recovery process. That’s where navigators come in.
    Prior to the surgery, candidates for joint replacement are expected to attend pre-operative classes. In the Joint and Spine Institute at St. Mary’s Medical Center, we provide a one-stop shop-a comprehensive orientation outlining how to prepare for surgery, what to expect on the day of surgery and throughout recovery. Additionally, patients meet with the program coordinator.
    After joint surgery, an average three-night stay has our patients beginning in-room physical therapy on day one. By day two, they are out of bed, dressed in their own clothing, and participating in group physical therapy.
    Recovery is a team sport
    Patients in the Joint and Spine Institute at St. Mary’s have regular and rigorous group physical therapy prior to their discharge. They gain a full understanding of what they must do each and every day in order to maintain and improve the viability of their new joint. We are honest, but encouraging with our patients. If they’re not where we feel they should be, we work with them to get them on track.
    Issues like pain can be a big hurdle in recovery. We teach our patients how to stay calm and work through the pain, allowing them to resume normal life activities sooner with little need for home care or return trips to the hospital.
    After hip replacements, an occupational therapist assists patients in resuming daily activities, such as dressing and bathing techniques along with the use of adaptive equipment. If necessary, the occupational therapist will review adjusting homemaking skills prior to a patient’s discharge.
    Page 2 of 2 - Personal coaches, such as a good friend or family member are considered vital in recovery and we invite them to participate in pre-admission visits with the program coordinator, as well as group physical therapy.
    If and when your doctor recommends joint replacement, insist that your surgery take place at a hospital that takes a comprehensive approach to joint replacement. Also, be prepared to make a personal commitment to the program. It could mean years of pain-free mobility.
    Lisa Boyd is an orthopedic certified registered nurse and orthopedic navigator in the Joint and Spine Institute at St. Mary’s. She can be reached at 816-655-5354.
     
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