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Knee replacement and hip replacement surgery are among the most common orthopedic surgeries seniors receive.

Nearly 800 thousand knee replacement surgeries are performed per year in the United States alone. The average age for knee replacement is around 65, but many people younger and older opt for the procedure.

Despite the frequency of the surgery, it is no small task on the body, and success rates vary highly on rehabilitation. As part of your pre-operative preparation, it is essential to evaluate your recovery options. Subject to your overall health, available assistance at home, and various risk factors, your doctor may recommend recovery at a short-stay rehabilitation facility. 

Physical therapy is vital to a successful surgery and a full recovery. A physical therapist will aid in reducing the amount of scar tissue that can accumulate and help minimize scarring. Your functional mobility relies on recovering your range of motion, and building up the muscles around your new knee is vital for stability and preventing injury. Recovery takes approximately 12 weeks, and for some people, it can take up to a year to feel completely recovered. 

What To Expect After Knee Replacement Surgery

Because the general time spent in the hospital after a knee replacement is approximately three days, the following will cover information according to this route. However, outpatient knee replacements are rising in popularity where you go home the day of surgery. Within a couple of hours, after you wake from anesthesia, the hospital’s physical therapist will begin to review your surgeon’s post-op protocol that has been designed around your needs.

Additionally, they will have you start walking with an assistive device – walker, crutches, or cane – and teach you some exercises. Walking and activities promote blood flow, which reduces the risk of blood clots. 

It is common for your knee to be fixed into a continuous passive motion machine (CPM). It’s not as terrifying as the name makes it sound. Essentially, the device keeps your knee in a constant, gentle motion. Continuous motion prevents joint stiffness and the build-up of unnecessary scar tissue. The following two days will consist of routine physical therapy that will focus on strengthening and range of motion. Depending on your individual needs, your doctor may discharge you to a short-stay rehabilitation facility or to return home. 

Post-Operative Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation 

If you and your doctor decide it is safe to transition home from the hospital, you will still require physical therapy.

Either you can opt for physical therapy in your home, or you may attend at an outpatient facility if you have the available transportation resources. In-home physical therapy generally occurs three days a week for an average of four to six weeks. Meanwhile, physical therapy in a short-term rehabilitation facility takes place six days a week for around 10-14 days.

Whether you return home or to a rehabilitation facility, your physical therapy program will generally have the same focus, and expected recovery time and progress would look similar.

Post-Op PT: Weeks One and Week Two

After leaving the hospital, you should already begin noticing an improvement in your functional mobility.

The first two weeks of physical therapy will focus on the beginning stages of strengthening the muscles around your knee and improving your range of motion. By the end of week two, your range of motion should be that you can bend your knee to a 90-degree angle.

It is essential to keep your incision site clean and dry during the first five to seven days to lower the risk of infection. With the help of nursing staff at an inpatient rehabilitation facility, you can receive assistance with bathing, bandage changes, and overall surgical site care.  

Post-Op PT: Weeks Three Through Week Six

Weeks three through six will heavily focus on improving your range of motion and building strength.

Exercises will include the use of a stationary bike. As your ROM improves, your ability to peddle the bike will progress. The muscles surrounding your knee – quadriceps, hamstrings, and hip muscles – will need to be strengthened. Your quadriceps (front/top of thigh) and hamstrings (back of thigh) play an important role in knee stability and movement.

Building up these muscles lowers the risk of your knee “buckling.” Exercises such as straight leg raises will be beneficial. Your physical therapist may introduce weighted cuffs into your workouts as you become stronger. 

Your ability to walk will improve during this time, and you should be able to progress from using a walker to crutches. Some swelling and pain or discomfort are expected during the three to six-week recovery time. Be sure to report any increase of pain or swelling to your doctor or physical therapist. You can continue using ice to help control swelling and pain. Most people can use a cane by the end of week six. Depending on their body’s ability to heal, age and health, some folks do not require an assistive device by the end of week six. 

Post-Op PT: Weeks Seven and Week Eight

On average, physical therapy ends around weeks seven and eight.

During this last stretch, one of the main goals you and your physical therapist will work towards is maximizing your functional mobility. Part of this includes exercises that will improve your balance and proprioception. Although you may be reaching the end of your physical therapy, continuing exercises at home or going to a fitness center is crucial. Your physical therapist can instruct you on exercises to continue. 

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Post-Operative Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy at Bridge Care Suites 

Recovery doesn’t have to be a struggle.

Bridge Care Suites offers several services that can help you get back to doing what you love. Bathing, dressing, and performing daily needs like laundry, cooking, or cleaning, can be difficult. The 24/7 available team of nurses and staff can assist you with these needs.

Your stay at Bridge Care Suites allows you to relax and focus on healing. The professional nurses can ensure your surgical site remains clean, bandages are changed when necessary, and monitor and treat if there is infection. Additionally, they can watch for any complications or health risks that may arise. 

Voluntarily, the medical team strives to meet the state-of-the-art standards set by the Joint Commission to maintain accreditation. Standards ensure on-site physical therapy sessions are never missed, and each guest receives the highest quality care and attention to their needs. “Joint Commission Accreditation is woven into the fabric of a healthcare organization’s operations.”

Bridge Care Suites is proud to uphold and honor the quality and safety standards set so guests may have access to the utmost care coupled with compassionate treatment.  Schedule a tour of the facility and meet the compassionate team, or if you’re ready to reserve your stay, contact Bridge Care Suites today.