Hip and knee replacements have long been an option for managing osteoarthritis, and these procedures are more popular now than ever. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, approximately 700,000 knee replacement procedures are performed annually in the U.S. This number is projected to increase to 3.48 million procedures per year by 2030. And according to the National Institutes of Health, around 7 million Americans are living with a hip or knee replacement.
“With people living longer and wanting to maintain active lifestyles, there has been an increase locally in the number of knee and hip replacements in the past few years,” says Gigi Weiss, MSPT, director of rehabilitation and physical therapy, who oversees Ridgefield Visiting Nurse Association’s (RVNA) in-home services and outpatient rehab by RVNA. “A little over 20% of our patient population at RVNA has had a knee or hip replacement (about 600 patients), and we have done over 100 free pre-surgical home evaluations and education sessions, helping patients prepare for their return home from surgery.”
For many, the thought of having to deal with the surgery — pre and post — can be daunting, but there are ways to prepare for all the necessary phases, according Weiss. “Being prepared and being in the best physical shape you can be in is very important for success of these surgeries,” she states. “It’s difficult for people with arthritis to exercise because of the pain, but there are many non-weight bearing activities, such as swimming, that can be done in order to maintain or gain strength. The stronger a patient is prior to surgery, the faster the recovery.”
According to Weiss, RVNA has developed a program providing orthopedic physical therapy in patients’ homes following joint replacement surgical procedures. “Our program adheres to the guidelines established by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and the National Institutes of Health,” she says, “and thinking ahead is key.” RVNA helps patients prepare their homes for their return from the hospital or surgical center, tells them what to expect in terms of recovery and physical therapy, and explains how to transition into outpatient rehabilitation.
The RVNA joint replacement program is designed specifically for the management of same day or hospital stay orthopedic surgical procedures which include, but are not limited to, total hip replacement, hemi/uni/or partial hip replacement, hip resurfacing procedures, and total knee and partial knee replacement.
“A new approach to joint replacement surgeries is to do it on a same day basis, meaning patients go home the same day they are operated on,” Weiss explains. “RVNA has partnerships with local surgeons who offer this option to patients they have identified as potential good candidates for it. These patients have their surgery done in an outpatient surgical center in the morning, and an RVNA nurse sees them in their home that afternoon. An RVNA physical therapist goes to the home the next day and for the continuing 5-7 days. This prepares them for outpatient therapy in about a week.
Once they are ready for outpatient physical therapy, patients no longer receive physical therapy in the home. They continue their recovery with physical therapy at the facility of their choice. Patients also have the option of visiting the outpatient rehabilitation center at Rehab by RVNA, located at 27 Governor St. in Ridgefield. “Our therapists have many years of experience in orthopedics, and we also offer occupational therapy if it’s needed,” Weiss explains. “And then, once the patient has met their outpatient goals, they can continue with our in-house wellness program, visiting regularly to use the exercise equipment and machines.”
Weiss has the following advice for someone who may need a hip or knee replaced: “Don’t wait too long to have the surgery. It’s better to get it done before the pain limits your physical activity. These surgeries are so much more advanced today than even five years ago. The surgery is less invasive and the recovery is much quicker and easier.”
For more information, call RVNA at 203-438-5555 or visit ridgefieldvna.org.