The recovery period post-total knee replacement surgery is crucial to the success of the procedure. With the average length of a hospital stay following knee replacement surgery being three to four days – during which you will be taking care of your knee and starting physical therapy – your home will play a key part in your recovery.
You should not spend your time in hospital planning your recovery. Instead, your home should have been prepared well before surgery. According to research from the Arthritis Foundation, only 41% of people who had undergone joint surgery and were questioned in a survey said their homes were prepared for recovery.
With this in mind, we have looked at four tips you should use for preparing your home to best aid your knee replacement surgery recovery:
Prepare a Recovery Area
Due to your restricted mobility, it is more than likely you will be doing a lot of sitting in the first few weeks of your recovery. For this reason, you should designate a recovery area in your home – most likely the living room – with a sturdy chair to relax in. It is recommended that you have a chair between 18 and 20 inches tall, with arms and a solid back to offer the best possible support.
A recliner is the best possible choice as you can elevate your legs, but if you don’t have one, placing a sturdy footstall in front of your chair is a good option.
Your recovery area should also have all the items you will need within arm’s reach, so to limit the number of times you have to get up. Consider having the following items to hand:
- Mobile phone and tablet, plus chargers
- Television remote
- Bottled water
Sleep is an essential part of surgery recovery, so due to reduced mobility and the difficulty posed by stairs, it may be worth considering converting a ground-floor space to become a temporary bedroom. The more precautions you can take to limit the amount you have to move around your home, the better your recovery period is going to be.
Install and Use Mobility Aids
While you won’t be walking around your house very much following your knee surgery, it is inevitable that you will need to at some point. A loss of balance and a need for more space makes those who have had knee replacement surgery prone to falls, therefore installing mobility aids in your home should be considered.
These preventative measures can make the navigation of your home much easier, and things to consider include:
- Handrails – installing a handrail both inside and outside of the bath or shower.
- Nightlights – having well-lit pathways will be particularly beneficial should you need to get up during the night.
- Using a raised toilet seat.
- Using a walking device until you are more stable.
- Wearing non-skid socks.
This goes hand-in-hand with the point above, as space in your home is key to your safety and recovery. You should look around your home and envision enough space for you to fit through with a walker or crutches.
To make enough space to move through the home, you should consider the following:
- Moving furniture – clearing pathways of furniture is key, and where possible, you should move other items as close to the wall as possible to maximise the available space.
- Tidying up electrical wires – cables can be a major trip hazard so be sure to clear them away.
- Remove rugs – even the smallest step up can be a trip hazard, so it is recommended that you remove rugs from your home to avoid this.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Knee replacement surgery makes the ability to do everyday activities very difficult, so you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help. Consider asking a friend or family member to stay with you during your initial recovery period, or organise for some level of in-home care. The more help you have, the more successful your recovery is likely to be.
The main areas you will likely need assistance with includes:
- Changing bandages and dressings
- Monitoring post-surgery condition
- Getting dressed
- General household chores
- Food shopping
- Paying bills
The key to preparing your home for post-surgery is that you can never prepare too much. The more organised your home is, the greater the likelihood of a smooth knee surgery recovery.