For most people, recovering from knee surgery in the comfort of home seems better than recovering in a hospital room. Modern surgical methods have made it possible for some patients to return home the day of or soon after knee replacement surgery. If you are planning to have outpatient knee replacement surgery, it is important to prepare you home for optional recovery. Here are a few ways you can prep your home for your upcoming knee replacement.
A Helping Hand: You’re going to need help from a loved-one after your surgery. Arrange for someone to drive you to and from physical therapy and other important appointments, as you won’t be able to drive for 2 to 8 weeks. Talk to a family member or friend about doing a bit of grocery shopping for you. If you have pets, ask a neighbor to take your pet for a walk or help with feeding. Arranging help at home before your surgery keeps you from having to figure out those details when the anesthesia wears off.
Make First-Floor Sleeping Arrangement: Stairs are incredibly difficult to manage for a brand new knee joint. If you usually sleep upstairs, it’s important to set up a comfortable place for you to sleep on the first floor. It’s also helpful to have things you might want or need nearby, such as your laptop, a book, the television control, kleenex, and water. Go ahead and set these items up near your sleep space so they will be easily accessible when you need them.
Prepare your Bathroom: The toilet is going to feel a little lower and the shower a little more slippery after knee replacement. Consider installing grab bars beside the toilet and inside the shower to provide stability.
Clear the Floor: For a few weeks, you’ll be making your way around your home using crutches. Your recovery space must be clear of any clutter, bulky carpet or items that could cause you to trip. A fall could be a major setback in your recovery.
Stock the Freezer (with ice packs and food): Preparing frozen meals that can be easily cooked will make your post-surgical life so much easier. Think ahead and precook some of your favorite comfort foods. It will be important to ice your knee to avoid swelling, so stock up on ice packs you can swap in and out as needed.
Essential Items: Keep everyday items in easy to reach places so you do not have to open cabinets to reach in high places. Use a grabber if you need to pick up any hard to reach items.
These few preparations will greatly simplify your at-home recovery. If you have any concerns about these pre-surgical steps, share those with me on your next visit. I am committed to seeing my patients experience a successful recovery and much of that recovery occurs at home. Let’s make it as comfortable for you as possible.
Dr. Amir Jamali, founder of the Joint Preservation Institute, is a board-certified fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon in Northern California specializing in treatments for the knee, hip and shoulder.