If you're contemplating either hip or knee replacement surgery, you're probably eager to get back on your feet and moving again; many orthopedic patients have been severely restricted by their bad knee or hip for months or even years. That's why the NCH Joint Replacement Program offers a "Fast Track" option for recovery so that patients can get home sooner and back on their feet faster.
The NCH Fast Track program isn't for everyone. A prospective Fast Track patient must be physically fit and have a very positive mindset. The Fast Track program requires diligence, dedication and self-discipline – since you will go home a day earlier than regular patients and have all of your physical therapy and recovery managed by a visiting nurse and physical therapist in the comfort of your own home, rather than in a rehabilitation center.
Why get patients home sooner? Very simply, the faster patients get home, the better their peace of mind, the faster they heal, and the healthier they are. The chance of infection is decreased. And they become more fully engaged in the rehabilitation process.
"NCH surgeons identify potential candidates for the Fast Track program," says Diane Ryzner, APN for Orthopedics, Orthopedic Service Line Administrator and lead for the Fast Track team. "They look for patients who have the physical strength and mental determination to follow all the rules and see the program through when they get home. Age is not a factor as long as certain conditions are in place." Patients who decide to become a part of the program are guided every step of the way by the NCH Fast Track team comprised of nurses, patient care techs, case managers, therapists, home care nurses and therapists, and of course the surgeon.
Prospective candidates begin by attending a Joint Replacement class at NCH and learning about the process of their recovery. Before their surgery, staff members instruct patients on how to equip their home with all the necessary medical equipment, such as a shower chair, commode, walker, etc. Patients will also be shown how to engage a home healthcare provider and physical therapist to come to the patient's home for therapy sessions and medical oversight. (Learn about NCH Home Healthcare Services here.)
On the day of surgery, Fast Track patients are scheduled for one of the first two procedures in the morning. That afternoon, they have two physical therapy sessions in their hospital room. "That first session is so the therapist can assess a patient's physical condition after surgery," says Diane. "Sometimes we just have a patient sit up in bed and dangle their feet off the side of the bed. Other times, patients get out of bed and walk a few steps with a walker."
On Day 2 post-op, patients usually have a second physical therapy session in the morning and then are picked up and driven home by their coach/caregiver right after lunch. As part of the program, patients must have a coach/caregiver stay with them 24 hours a day for at least 3 days. That afternoon, the home healthcare nurse and physical therapist will come to the patient's home for their first visit. Regular visits from the nurse and physical therapist continue until it's obvious that the patient can transition into outpatient therapy.
Of course, NCH will always offer the more traditional forms of recovery. But if you're eager to get out there and get moving again, the NCH "Fast Track" orthopedic program might be just what the doctor ordered.