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Importance of Home Health After A Knee Replacement

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A knee replacement surgery is often considered a safe and effective way of treating knee pain due to arthritis or injury. There are more than 750,000 knee replacements performed each year in the United States. It is one of the most successful procedures in all of medicine, but physicians will try non-surgical treatment and other alternatives before a knee replacement surgery is performed.

What do home health services look like after a knee replacement?

Following a knee replacement, research has shown that the majority of patients are able to return home safely. Having a safe home environment is extremely important following a knee replacement surgery. The physician and care team, including home health care, will discuss the home environment prior to the surgery to ensure a smooth transition to the home environment.

Within 24 to 48 hours of being discharged from the hospital, a home health licensed medical professional will conduct a start of care visit in the home setting. Physical therapy is the most common type of home health provided following a knee replacement. It is a crucial part of the recovery process. Physical therapists will assign an exercise program based on the physician protocols and individual assessments. Physical therapy helps to ensure that a patient is progressing properly following their surgery to regain normal mobility.

Home physical therapy allows patients to maximize their functional mobility in the home setting. Following a knee replacement, this will focus on range of motion and strength-building exercises. The frequency of these exercises will vary for each patient. Physical therapy programs also typically include a walking regimen and may advise an assistive device such as a walker or crutches. Following home physical therapy, many patients will transition to outpatient physical therapy, continuing to focus on strengthening and more advanced exercises.

How Can Home Health Help in The Recovery Process?

Reduces Risk of Readmission / Complications

During the at-home visits from a licensed medical professional, the wound will be assessed to ensure that it is not infected and has no complications. They will also clean the wound and change the dressing, following guidance from the physician. If there are any concerns, they will be reported to a physician immediately. Because the care is being provided in the comfort of the patient’s home, there is a lower risk of cross-contamination than in the hospital setting.

Faster Recovery Process

In accordance with the physician’s protocols, physical therapists will assign a personalized exercise program to expedite the recovery process. These exercises will be performed during the home health visits as well as on the patient’s own time. The physical therapist will teach the patient how to properly perform the exercises and provide guidance on how often and for what duration they should be performed. Being in the home setting can also expedite the recovery process because it is completed in a familiar environment, rather than in a hospital or other unfamiliar setting.

Cost Savings

Compared to care that is provided in the hospital, an at-home orthopedic program is less expensive and provides care that is just as effective. The home health benefit is included in most Medicare, HMO and commercial insurance plans. In some cases, there may be a co-pay.

Conclusion

Following a knee replacement, the physician will choose whether it is safe to be discharged to home health care. Home health care can provide benefits in the recovery process such as the reduced risk of readmission to the hospital, faster recovery and cost savings. Some home health agencies specialize in a specific area of medicine, such as orthopedic rehabilitation following a knee replacement. Home health agencies that specialize in a certain type of care may be able to offer superior outcomes and quality of care. For more information on how to pick a home health agency, read our blog post here.

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