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Total Joint Replacement Program Helps Patients Resume Activities

Fayetteville, Ga. (March 11, 2019) The best time to consider joint replacement surgery is when your hips or knees make you feel older than you are. From the moment you speak with your doctor and decide that surgery is necessary, the team at Piedmont Fayette Hospital begins the process of getting you prepared for the operation and the recovery. The goal is to get people back to the activities they enjoyed before the pain made it impossible.

The program starts with a class for the patient and their caregiver/coach. Over the course of an afternoon, a nurse navigator explains the ins and outs of the surgery and what to expect before the operation, during their short hospital stay and over the next several months as their body recovers. During the class, patients learn about the exercises they should do to get their muscles in optimal condition for the surgery. They are also free to ask all of the questions they have to put their minds at ease. This class is also a place to meet others who are going through the same process. In some cases, they may even be having surgery around the same time and will be a part of the same group physical therapy program.

However, surgery comes first. Thanks to the class, patients and coaches know where to go and how the day is expected to progress.

“It’s wonderful that the patients and coaches know what to expect from the surgery,” said Charles Claps, D.O., an orthopedic surgeon who is fellowship trained in hip and knee replacement surgery and performs this procedure at Piedmont Fayette. “They know that the surgeries are minimally-invasive and have an expected timeline for the procedure and the brief stay in the hospital afterwards. They ask great questions and feel empowered to learn more to make the recovery process that much smoother.”

After the procedure itself, the patient goes to the recovery room until they can be moved to a private room upstairs. Once there, the healing begins and so does the physical therapy. In addition to individual work with a physical or occupational therapist, joint replacement patients attend two group physical therapy classes with their coaches. It is here where everyone learns the exercises that will aid in the patient’s recovery.

“Doing a bulk of the physical therapy together creates a strong bond between the patients and also tends to encourage everyone to keep pushing,” said Diane Andresen, orthopedic navigator. “Everyone gets to celebrate each other’s successes and cheer each other on as they reach different milestones.”

According to Dr. Claps, most patients stay only one night in the hospital, leaving the day after their procedure. There may be some additional physical therapy or rehabilitation, taking place at home, but the nurse navigator is only a phone call away if there are additional questions.

“The process of having hip or knee replacement has improved significantly over the years. The recovery process has improved as well,” said Claps. “The total joint replacement program at Piedmont Fayette helps our patients achieve long-term success.”

Visit piedmont.org/orthopedic for more information on total joint replacement.

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