What to Expect After Complete Knee Replacement Surgery



Do you have a stiff, painful knee that makes it difficult to perform even the simplest of activities? Are physical therapy and other treatments no longer working? If so, it may be time for you to move ahead with total knee replacement surgery, then follow it up with short-term rehab.

“At Nathaniel Witherell, our physical therapists work in close conjunction with your surgeon and our facility’s full-time licensed rehabilitation staff to help you get back to an active lifestyle as soon as possible after your surgery,” says Dr. Francis (Frank) X. Walsh, Witherell’s medical director.

Here’s what you can expect from short-term rehab as you move forward on your road to recovery:

Lying down. In order to help promote flexibility in your knee while lying down, your physical therapist may begin by placing a rolled-up bath towel under your ankle and have you gently straighten your leg.

Sitting up. Your therapist may move and hold your leg as you sit up. Soon you won’t need assistance in sitting at the edge of the bed with your foot resting on a small chair. You will then work on stretching your recovering leg and resting it on a chair.

Standing with support. For a while, your therapist may help you stand. A safety belt may be placed around your waist to help support you in case you feel dizzy. In addition, a splint may also be placed around your recovering leg to keep it from moving and protect your knee as you stand.

Using a walker. Once you can stand, your therapist will show you how to use a walker to help you keep your balance. Initially, you’ll only be able to place a small amount of weight on your recovering leg as you walk. However, as your knee becomes stronger, your therapist will let you know when you can increase the amount of weight placed on your recovering leg.

Walking with crutches and beyond. Once your knee and leg muscles are strong enough, your therapist may recommend crutches instead of a walker and give you guidelines on how far and how long you may walk.

Exercise. Your therapist will help you build strength and flexibility using Witherell’s state-of-the-art equipment, including Nu Step and Scifit exercise machines and the latest Electrical Therapy System for ultra sound stimulation.

Eventually, you will learn to walk unassisted up and down stairs and grades. Upon returning home, you’ll be given a number of home exercises to further strengthen thigh and calf muscles, and keep you healthy and active.

To learn more about short-term rehab at Nathaniel Witherell, contact George Cossifos, admissions director, by phone at 203-618-4232,  or via email at gcossifos@witherell.org.  You can also find additional information on our website by clicking here.

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