LP Spring 2018 - 9


Joint Replacement Program

Welcome to the new world of joint replacement surgery. It's a
world where patients are encouraged to act like a well person and
not a sick patient. It is where they are encouraged to get moving and
stay moving. And, it's where they are expected to-and do-recover
much faster than they did in the past when a patient might spend
up to 10 days in a hospital and/or a rehab facility after a hip or a
knee replacement.
Newer surgical techniques, smaller incisions, an earlier start to
physical therapy, and insurance reimbursement trends (Medicare
has been covering single joint replacements as outpatient procedures since January) are all contributing to a shorter stay for joint
replacement patients.
Roxanne Kintzer, the joint replacement program coordinator at
WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital, has seen the changes in
her nursing career of almost 35 years.
"There was a time when patients laid around longer," she said.
"The mindset has totally changed. It's an active recovery."
Ephrata's average length of stay for joint replacement patients is
1.7 days, about half of what it was before it began a new program
for those undergoing hip or knee replacement in July 2017.
At Ephrata, patients get up the same day as their surgery. The next
morning, they rise early, dress in their own clothes, and participate
in physical therapy sessions with other joint replacement patients.
They also walk in the joint replacement hallway, which features
markers and a bulletin board to measure and track their progress.
After physical therapists clear them, patients go home, with either
in-home or outpatient therapy sessions planned for several weeks.
Therapists are realistic with patients, warning them they will have
swelling and pain but encouraging them to keep moving.
"We believe that early ambulation and keeping them mobile and
active is the key to recovery," Kintzer said.
Many patients agree.
Two days after her surgery, Huxley was home, took a shower, made
her own breakfast, and did the dishes-all before her visiting nurse
and physical therapist arrived for her first therapy session. Within
several weeks, she was walking a mile on her two new knees. Better
than that, however, was the fact that she could now pick up her
grandchildren, something she had avoided because she was afraid
the arthritis in her knees would make her fall.
"After surgery, one day when we were together, I automatically
picked up the youngest, who is 1 and a half, and I was shocked," she
said. "I turned around to my son and said, 'I never did that before.'
At that moment, I felt perfectly comfortable standing up and just
picking up the baby. They loved it and I loved it!"


Justin Gehman, of Akron, had his left knee replaced in December. He was back to work
at his landscaping job six weeks later.

Gehman's knee problems, caused by injuries he suffered in high
school while playing soccer, were making his daily life difficult. He
owns his own landscaping company and after a day at work, his knee
would swell and be painful.
Six weeks after his surgery, he returned to work. By 12 weeks, he
could do pretty much everything he did before surgery, with less pain.
"I am very happy," he said. "My other knee is going to need to
be done in the near future. I hope it goes as well as this one did."




Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of LP Spring 2018

LP Spring 2018 - 1
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