Intensive Home Rehab, New Option, Gives Patients a Leg Up After Knee Replacement
(New York, N.Y. May 22, 2013). Many people going for total knee replacement surgery to relieve severe arthritis pain expect to go to a rehabilitation facility after the procedure. But increasing numbers of patients of Dr. Geoffrey Westrich at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) are choosing another option: a relatively new program that enables them to receive the same intensive physical therapy at home as they would have in a rehab facility.
"Although most patients would prefer the comfort of their own home after leaving the hospital, many think they would make more progress in a rehab facility because they would receive more physical therapy,” said Dr. Westrich, director of research, Adult Reconstruction and Joint Replacement Service at HSS. “But with the intensive home rehab program, a physical therapist goes to their house six times a week for the first two weeks, so they basically get the same amount of therapy that they would receive in a facility. And since they are in their own home, there is less of a risk of developing an infection after surgery."
Intensive at-home rehabilitation is now covered by most insurance companies and by Medicare. As long as patients have family and friends who can help them at home after the surgery, it’s an excellent option, according to Dr. Westrich. Patients go home with a continuous passive motion machine that they use to slowly increase their knee’s range of motion and help in recovery.
"We have found that six weeks after surgery, patients having intensive rehabilitation at home have made the same amount of progress as patients who went to a rehab facility," Westrich says.
A sixty-seven year-old patient from Manhattan was happy to have the option of intensive physical therapy at home after both knee replacements. Her first surgery was in December 2012, and she had a second knee replacement in April of this year. The retired teacher says having the surgery has already changed her life, freeing her from unrelenting pain.
Less than three weeks after her second knee surgery, she said she was making good progress. “The intensive home therapy worked out really well. I didn’t want to go to an outside facility for rehabilitation. It’s comforting being in my own surroundings, in my own home,” said the patient, who had family and friends to help her at home.
A physical therapist went to her house six times a week for the first two weeks after she went home from the hospital. A visiting nurse and home health aide also went to her house for several weeks. She used the passive motion therapy machine on her own.
She decided to have knee replacement during a trip to Paris, when her knees hurt so much she couldn’t walk. She looks forward to completing rehab and being able to walk as much as she wants pain-free, so on her next trip to Europe, she can see the sights.