Preparing your home for recovery after orthopedic surgery

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If you have exhausted all nonoperative treatments for arthritis of the hip or knee, then it may be time to consult an orthopedic surgeon about joint replacement surgery. Many patients who have hip and knee replacements report significant improvements in mobility and quality of life.

One of the early steps that is critical in your success is preparing your home for recovery after the operation. Astrid Le-Touzic, orthopedic program manager at Sharp Grossmont Hospital, provides the following checklist to help prevent accidents that will prolong your recovery.

Keep things clean to prevent infection

Thoroughly clean all living spaces — including linens, carpets, kitchen counters and bathrooms — to reduce the risk of infections.

Stairs and walkways

If you have stairs at home, make sure handrails are well-anchored on both sides of the stairway.

Remove throw rugs or secure them with nonskid backing to avoid tripping and slipping.

Make sure the transition between different types of flooring is as even and secure as possible.

Avoid waxing wood or linoleum floors.

Furniture layout

Arrange furniture to keep pathways clear.

Chairs and tables need to be sturdy and stable enough to support you leaning on them.

Pad furniture with sharp edges or corners.

Bathroom

Install grab handles around the toilet and bathtub if you need more leverage and support.

Place a rubber mat in your bathtub or shower to prevent slipping.

Use a bath seat if it is too difficult to stand during a shower or to get up out of the tub.

Kitchen

Store frequently used items at waist level.

Use the front burners of the stove to avoid overextending yourself.

Slide heavy pots and pans instead of lifting them.

Bedroom

Reposition your bed so you can easily access the side where you did not have surgery.

Clear a pathway from your bed to the doorway that can accommodate a walker, crutches or a cane.

Hang or store frequently worn clothing at waist level to make it easier to reach without overextending.

Medications

Keep all medications out of reach of children.

Dispose of expired medications properly.

Meal preparation

Consider stocking up on healthy, easy-to-prepare meals; this will help conserve your energy from having to walk, stand, and lift heavy pots and pans in the kitchen.

Protein is essential to help your body heal and fight infection following surgery. Check with your doctor before taking iron supplements.

This article features experts from Sharp Grossmont Hospital. For more health stories visit www.sharp.com/news.

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