Life After Joint Replacement – Why Physical Therapy is Key

October 01, 2018

If you get a joint replaced, you might think your mobility woes will be history. The reality is, your new joint needs continued attention and care to function normally.

“Today’s hip and knee replacement prosthetics use innovative plastics and metals that are more durable, dependable and longer lasting,” says Laura Agemak, MPT, a physical therapist at Henry Ford Health System. “But even with high-tech materials and minimally invasive procedures that speed up recovery time and reduce the risk of infection, proper rehabilitation is still a critical part of a successful joint replacement – no matter what your age and mobility status.”

Why is rehabilitation a critical part of a successful joint replacement?

Getting up and moving soon after joint replacement surgery is key to a successful outcome. It also helps prevent life-threatening complications, such as blood clots. Both physical and occupational therapists will see you in the hospital after surgery and begin a mobilization and exercise program before discharge. The goal is to get patients up and moving the same day as surgery.

What does rehabilitation and mobilization look like?

Once discharged, you’ll usually get two to three weeks of in-home physical therapy to ensure you can meet range-of-motion and strength targets. Three weeks after surgery, you will likely begin outpatient treatment with weekly appointments. On average, joint replacement patients participate in five to seven physical therapy visits.

What should you expect from rehabilitation?

You will experience pain following surgery, but it will gradually decrease over time. A physical therapist will talk to you about your recovery, goals and medical history while assessing your range of motion and strength. We develop a plan of care that matches your goals.

Every patient is unique and physical therapy should be tailored to each person’s needs. Patients who do not complete rehabilitation may experience prolonged pain, and stiffness and swelling of the joint. Outpatient physical therapy will help you achieve your goals in an acceptable time frame.

To find a doctor or physical therapist, or to learn more about joint replacement options at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, visit HenryFord.com/JointReplacement or call (800) 436-7936.

Find a Henry Ford Physical Therapy location near you

The dedicated rehabilitation team at Henry Ford uses a multidisciplinary approach to physical therapy, combining exercise and strength training with manual therapy and specialized services to develop an individualized treatment plan that meets your unique needs.

Henry Ford offers several convenient physical therapy locations throughout Oakland County, including Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, Henry Ford Medical Center – Columbus, Henry Ford Medical Center – Novi and Henry Ford Medical Center – Livonia.

Visit HenryFord.com/PhysicalTherapy to request an appointment today.