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Total Joint Center Offers Comprehensive Patient Education and Support

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Posted: January 25, 2011 at 10:36 p.m.

Have painful joints led you to give up your favorite sport, or to avoid even simple activities such as climbing stairs?

Many patients whose knees and hips have been affected by age, injury or arthritis have turned to joint replacement surgery to restore motion and provide relief from pain. According to the National Institutes of Health, about 773,000 Americans choose to have a problem hip or knee replaced each year.

“The goal of total joint replacement is to get patients back to their daily activities as soon as possible,” says Kris Hanby, M.D., a fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon who has been performing hip and knee replacements at Washington Regional Medical Center for more than five years. Joint replacement surgery involves removing a damaged joint and putting in an artificial joint called a prosthesis. Prostheses, usually made of plastic or metal, are designed to resist corrosion and deterioration and to be biocompatible (accepted by the patient’s body).

“As joint replacement becomes increasingly common, more is learned about how to help joint replacement patients maintain their functional independence and improve their quality of life,” reports Dr. Hanby. One way to achieve this, he says, is with surgical and nursing units dedicated to the joint replacement patient.

Washington Regional’s Total Joint Center – a comprehensive program for patients considering joint replacement surgery – opened recently to provide these patients with specialized education and a team of surgeons and staff focused exclusively on their recovery and rehabilitation. At the Total Joint Center, patient education and support begins at the time joint replacement is first considered and continues through surgery and at every step along the recovery process.

Patients at the Total Joint Center work closely with a multidisciplinary team of dedicated healthcare workers who specialize in the latest joint replacement surgery and recovery techniques, explains Elizabeth Duerr, RN, manager of the Washington Regional Total Joint Center. “This healthcare team has one goal: getting patients back on their feet so they can return to a life of motion,” she says.

“The key participant in the Total Joint Center’s program is the patient,” Duerr adds. “Research has shown that the more informed patients are about their healthcare, the more likely they will experience a successful recovery.”

Patients at the Total Joint Center are placed in small groups for a pre-operative educational class called Joint Camp, where they learn about each step of the pre-surgery, surgery, post-surgery and recovery-at-home process. According to Duerr, knowing what to expect and how to prepare for the patient’s return home is very important.

Physical therapists and nurses at the Total Joint Center help patients begin their mobility program the day of their surgery. Early and frequent mobility is one of the most important steps in the recovery process after total joint replacement, Duerr reports, adding that the patients’ progress is closely monitored by their surgeon and other Total Joint Center team members.

Patients at the Total Joint Center will have at least three physical therapy sessions each day while they are at the Center. The specially designed physical therapy area is just a few short steps away from the private patient rooms.

Like Joint Camp, some post-surgery physical therapy sessions at the Total Joint Center are provided in a small group setting. Patients will also share most of their meals together in a cozy dining room located within the Center.

Dr. Hanby says the group setting allows patients to bond and to encourage each other. “Washington Regional’s new Total Joint Center helps to ensure a positive and supportive environment for total joint replacement patients, which can lead to faster recovery times,” he explains. “In a group setting like this, patients learn from and draw strength from each other.”

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