In a previous article we looked at by a doctor may refer you or a loved one to home physical therapy after being discharged from the hospital or the nursing home.
In this article we're going to look at something a little bit more specific. Why does the doctor refer you or a loved one to home physical therapy after an orthopedic surgery such as a total knee or a total hip replacement?
The answer to that last question may seem pretty obvious. But there may be more to it than meets the eye.
It's pretty common knowledge that anyone who has had hip or knee surgery will generally need and benefit from doing specific exercises. And most people understand that physical therapy is ordered after having a total hip or total knee surgery. But there's more that a physical therapist can help you with then just home exercises.
We spoke about this before, but home physical therapists frequently have to assess the living situation of a patient just returning from the hospital. Many people after a hip or knee surgery don't realize how difficult it will be for them to get around their homes. Sometimes even the simplest tasks can be impossible to do safely or pain free, such as simply getting into and out of bed.
A physical therapist can help the hip or knee patient understand what is the best way to do these simple tasks that may seem impossible at the time.
And it may seem hard to believe but many patients returning home after a surgery don't seem to understand how long the rehab process will generally take. I like to tell patients who have had a hip or knee or even back surgery to treat themselves like a million dollar athlete.
This puts things into perspective for most patients. They have their favorite teams and they have their favorite athletes. When one of those athletes gets injured and has to undergo surgery they are frequently out of the game for a considerable amount of time if not for the whole season.
Patients need to treat themselves like these million-dollar athletes and not try to get back into the game too quickly. This is what a home physical therapist can help the patient or loved one to understand.
In order for the rehab process to be successful it will take time. Generally for a orthopedic type surgery it will take anywhere from 3 to 6 months of rehabilitation for a full recovery. And depending on the severity of the injury or the surgery possibly even longer.
And last but certainly not least having a home care therapist to come in for assessment and treatment can also help the caregiver. We frequently have to teach the caregiver how to help the orthopedic patient mobilize safely as well as manage their pain and swelling.
But there is one area that family caregivers can benefit greatly from home care physical therapy after an orthopedic surgery. And that is when the home care therapist assures the caregiver that they do not have to do everything for the patient. Many times caregivers will wait hand and foot on the orthopedic patient and do even the simplest tasks for them.
Family caregivers should understand that it is important for patients to do things for them self. A therapist will look at this as a form of exercise. Any type of physical activity whether it is grooming or getting up and getting something from the refrigerator or shifting positions is good physical activity.
As long as the patient isn't going to injure themselves or is unsafe and doing it the caregiver needs to understand that it is ok for the patient to attempt to move around and do small things for themselves.
If someone you know or you yourself are contemplating or scheduled to have an orthopedic surgery don't be surprised if the physician asks for a home health referral afterwards. There are lots of things that you could learn and be benefited by by having a home care therapist come in and performance assessment on you.
In future articles we will continue to explore why a physician may refer you or a loved one to home health physical therapy services.