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Joint Replacement with a Focus on Fun

You need a good surgical team to make sure your hip or knee replacement is successful. But after that, most of the work is up to you. The final outcome of your surgery depends a lot on what you put into your rehabilitation.

At Mercy Hospital Anderson in Southwest Ohio, hip and knee replacement patients are part of a new program that groups them together after their surgery so they can help each other through rehab. According to Maureen Burger, Director of Medical/Surgical Services, “Every Tuesday is total joint day. We bring the patients together for group exercise. That way, they can enjoy the camaraderie of being with each other and taking the same recovery path. Often, they get to know each other before the surgery. They’re together in the pre-admission group, where they learn about their procedures together.”

But it’s not just camaraderie that keeps them going. “Peer pressure is a good motivator,” says Burger. “You have a 60 year old woman looking at a 70 year old woman who’s doing better, and she’s thinking, ‘I better get working.’ They’re really forming their own little support group. They don’t even notice their pain as much.”

Why did Mercy Anderson adopt this new rehab approach? “We wanted to look at how we took care of the total joint patients,” says Burger. “We wanted them to go back into their communities and say ‘You’ve got to get your hip done at Anderson.’ ”

A wellness approach
Typically, people who are having hip and knee replacement aren’t sick. They just need surgery so they can lead more active, pain free lives. “We really try to have a wellness approach to rehab,” says Burger. “We give them a day to get over the surgery and anesthesia, but after that, the focus is on fun. We encourage them to wear their street clothes. The day after their surgery, the doctor sends them a flower. And we invite spouses and partners to join in the rehab education, because those are the people who will be their therapy partner when they leave the hospital.”

Burger says that people who have had traditional rehab as well as group rehab have enjoyed the group rehab more. And maybe even more importantly, “There’s a higher level of involvement in rehab on the part of the patient. And the doctors report more improvement with this, quicker progression and quicker healing. For example, our knee 
patients see better extension. And the patients’ frame of mind is often better too.”

The program has been so successful that, “We’re adding total joints to Monday too,” says Burger. “And we want to add even more little touches that patients will appreciate, like offering to have their done.”

Maureen Burger, Director, Medical Surgical Services, Mercy Anderson Hospital.

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