Rehabilitiation while in hospital
It may come as a surprise to you that after total joint replacement surgery you’ll be encouraged to begin physiotherapy almost straight away. As soon as you are alert enough, your physiotherapist will help you move from your hospital bed to a comfortable chair.
You’ll be encouraged to get up and start moving around as soon as possible, even on the same day, depending on your surgeon and how quickly you are recovering. Most patients who undergo total hip or knee replacement begin standing and walking with the help of a walking support and a physiotherapist by the next day.
In the first few days after surgery, your orthopaedic surgeon, nurses and physiotherapists will monitor your condition and progress closely. You’ll spend a lot of time exercising your new joint and continuing deep breathing exercises to prevent lung congestion (which can occur as a result of lying in bed over several days). Your pain medication will be reduced gradually, your intravenous (IV) drip removed, you’ll return to a diet of solids – and you’ll become increasingly mobile.
By the second day, you’ll begin walking longer distances using crutches or a walker. Your surgeon will decide how much weight you are able to take through your new joint. They may advise you that you can put all of your weight in the operated leg. Your physiotherapist will progress your ability by teaching you how to walk with elbow crutches or a frame and safely get in and out of bed, on and off a chair, in and out of a car and up and down stairs. You may also attend a group exercise program in hospital.
Leaving hospital will usually occur when you have reached certain rehabilitative ‘milestones’, such as getting in and out of bed unassisted, or walking a short distance. Your surgeon will assess whether you can go directly home or somewhere that can help further with your recovery and rehabilitation. Your hospital will discuss arrangements for your continued rehabilitation, which may include visits with a physiotherapist or staying at a rehabilitation care facility.