Creating a Winning Post-Op Recovery Game Plan

Your joint preservation surgery is scheduled and you’re ready! You’ve done everything on your to-do list to prepare for the big day — maybe you dropped extra weight, quit smoking, made plans with a physical therapist and/or educated yourself on the procedure and what to expect from recovery. While the quality of the implant and your surgeon’s prowess are critical to a successful joint surgery, don’t underestimate the importance of creating a safe, supportive and comfortable home environment for post-surgery recovery.

Below are important tasks to take care of in the weeks before your surgery to ensure a smooth homecoming.

Clear the decks: Take care of time-sensitive tasks such as bills and home repairs so you can focus exclusively on recovery once you’re home.

Line up helpers: If you live alone, you’ll need to identify someone (or several people) to help with the activities of daily living in the early post-surgery days — cleaning house, getting dressed, showering, using the restroom, doing laundry and cooking. It’s tough to predict how long you’ll need this level of care, but plan on at least a week of extra support. If there’s no one you can turn to for assistance, you may need to spend some time at a rehabilitation facility. It’s important to know your options.

Think like an OSHA inspector: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)is charged with ensuring that workplaces are safe and healthful. Borrow a page from the OSHA handbook and review your home for potential hazards. Make sure rugs are slip-proof, remove tripping hazards such as electrical cords, plug in nightlights to illuminate the path to the bathroom and spend some time decluttering. If you’re going to need crutches or a walker in the early days, acquire them in advance and take a practice run around your home to identify obstacles. Is your bedroom on an upper floor? If so, you might consider setting up a bed on the ground floor (provided there is a bathroom) to avoid having to go up and down the stairs.

Cook up a storm, download meal delivery apps and grocery-shop strategically: If you’re adept in the kitchen, prepare and freeze large batches of nutritious meals to be eaten in the weeks following surgery. If you haven’t used meal delivery apps in the past, download one or two and do a practice run to familiarize yourself with how they work. Ready-made meals from the grocery store are another good option, but make sure they are healthy. Re-organize your refrigerator and kitchen shelves for easy access to food staples.

Buy assistive equipment or devices: Ask your surgeon’s staff about items that can make life easier during your recuperation. They may suggest things like a grab tool, a shower seat, a long-handled sponge, a raised toilet seat or a step ladder.

Organize your bedside table: Make sure you have books, magazines, the television remote, facial tissues, medication, water, instant cold packs and other necessities within easy reach.

Apply for a disabled parking permit: If you don’t already have one, you may want to apply for a temporary placard. Contact the department of motor vehicles for more information.

After joint replacement surgery, patients typically return home after 24 to 48 hours, and in some cases even sooner. Knowing that your home environment is safe and conducive to healing, you’ll be able to focus on your most important post-surgical task: rehabilitation — gaining strength, function and range-of-motion day by day.

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