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Physical therapist helping woman with recovery.

Planning Hip or Knee Replacement Surgery? Read This First.

If an injury or wear and tear are prompting you to consider a hip or knee replacement, you are not alone. According to the National Institutes of Health, over 1 million such procedures are performed each year in the United States.

Besides vetting a surgeon and hospital or outpatient facility, it’s important to also consider your recovery. For surgical procedures like these, you’ll need to plan in advance for short-term rehabilitation which will mitigate healing, maximize functionality and range of motion, and ensure a better recovery. In fact, experts agree that your choice for after care is just as important as your choice for surgical care.

To help guide the process, we reached out to Kelsey Treveloni, DPT, a physical therapist at United Hebrew’s short-term rehabilitation unit, for her advice on what to expect and what to know when recovering from hip or knee replacement surgery. 

Q. What is the typical rehab journey like?

A. No two patients or path to recovery are exact, which is why we emphasize person-centered care that focuses on the unique needs of the individual. Getting someone back to where they were pre-surgery will vary since everyone begins the process at a different level of physical health. 

But, that’s not to say there aren’t similarities. For patients who experience fairly straightforward surgeries with no complications, the goal is to get up and moving right away, bearing as much weight as is tolerable. Then, the process continues to get patients more comfortable tolerating weight and improving range of motion so that they can eventually return home safely.

Q. What can patients expect with recovery? 

A. Recovery is work. You want to get the body moving to promote healing, and some pain is a normal part of that process. Our therapists are trained by world-renowned Burke Rehabilitation Hospital, a United Hebrew partner, and excel in helping patients navigate pain management and therapy in a way that’s comfortable and effective. 

A short-term stay for patients who have either a hip or knee procedure is generally no more than 2 weeks, but everyone’s needs are different.  For someone recovering from a total joint procedure, there’s generally 45-50 hours of physical therapy per week along with occupational therapy. Therapy is done 5-6 times per week. This includes exercise programs, range of motion programs, and guidance on how to care for yourself at home. 

Once patients are up and moving well enough, they’re ready to continue therapy in an outpatient setting to work on range of motion and function. After that, our team helps arrange home therapy and home, which continues on an as-needed basis. Typically, patients who opt for total joint replacement tend to be younger and are able to move more easily and are less of a fall risk. For patients who are over 85 or who are at risk for falls, we’ll also advise on modifications to the home. 

Q. Can technology or special equipment help with recovery?

A. Technology can be a huge asset in recovery. At United Hebrew, our top-ranked short-term rehabilitation center, recently completely redesigned, offers new, state-of-the-art equipment to give Westchester residents access to cutting edge-therapy services in a safe, modern, home-like environment. 

Our therapists use the latest equipment, like Jintronix, an interactive, virtual reality rehab tool, to deliver exercises in an engaging video-game style. Patients improve motor skills while participating in virtual competitions like soccer, skiing, and riding a motorcycle. At the same time, infrared sensors track motion and measure progress using real-time data. This program is not only fun, it’s very effective—patients are able to see progress which drives them to embrace even more challenging exercises. 

Our new NeuroGym equipment — portable therapeutic devices — allows therapists to bring rehab directly to the rooms of residents who have limited mobility. Occupational therapy is delivered in our first-floor outpatient rehabilitation gym. We have a car simulator, kitchen, and bathroom set up that lets patients practice daily living skills to ensure that they can safely return home.

Q. Is there anything else patients should know?

A. The idea of surgery may seem daunting, but regaining function can be life changing. Know that we’re here to support everyone in the region through this process. Our goal is to deliver the best care and patient experience; it’s why we do what we do, and it’s why we love what we do.

For more information about short-term rehabilitation or surgical after care, call 914-632-2804 x1148.