Question:Last month, my older sister had a total hip replacement and was home in three days. She still seems so insecure. I'm worried about her. She's not moving much and seems too inactive. What can I do to help?
Answer:Insecurity and inactivity are common problems in many total hip patients during the rehab period. The short hospital stay cuts down costs but isn't always in the patient's best interests.
Some hospitals have developed a special at-home program for patients like your sister. It includes videos showing how and what to do after surgery. Nurses from the center make extra phone calls to check on the patients. They receive written material every week for the first month.
The idea is to increase social support as a way to help people cope better. The hope is to foster faster recovery with better rehab results. So far, research is scarce in this area and not too encouraging.
At least one study from the Netherlands was unable to show any difference between patients who did have the extra support compared to those who didn't. More study will help look at a wide range of factors. It may be that some skills and abilities are improved more than others by a program of this type.
If you don't think your sister is in need of special services such as physical therapy, then invite her to walk with you. Start with short distances in the neighborhood or at the mall. Try to get a consistent schedule first, then increase the speed (pace) of walking or increase the distance walked at the slower pace.
Studies show that improvements in walking and other activities occur the most in the first six months after hip replacment surgery. Since it's only been a month, there's still plenty of time to get a program of activity and exercise going.Inge van den Akker-Scheek, MSc, et al. Recovery of Gait After Short-Stay Total Hip Arthroplasty. In Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabiliation. March 2007. Vol. 88. No. 3. Pp. 361-367.
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