Mastering Daily Tasks (Recovering at Home)
While recovering from knee replacement surgery, you may need the help of certain
"assistive devices" to perform daily tasks or participate in normal
activities. Don't think of this as a loss of independence, but as an aid to
recovery. All of the tools listed below will help you protect your new knee
from potentially damaging movements and reduce pain.
Your case manager will discuss the options with you and your caregivers,
taking into account your needs, your surgeon's instructions and your insurance
coverage. He or she can even help you ordering some of the larger or more
specialized equipment. If possible, practice using these devices before your
surgery in order to become comfortable with their function.
Aids to Assist
Going to the Bathroom: You should use a raised toilet
seat for a few weeks following surgery to keep your knee in
a more stable position and minimize bending. You can also purchase a plastic
raised toilet seat with built-in handgrips. Besides adding 5" to toilet
height, its unique contoured shape will provide optimal comfort and help you
Bathing: Your therapist or nurse will show you how to use
a shower bench or chair while bathing to prevent
you from bending your knee too much. Use a long-handled sponge, shower hose
or hand-held showerhead to make bathing easier. You may also want to consider
having grab bars installed in your shower or bathtub to provide support as
you get in and out.
Hand Grips: Install handrails or safety bars next to stairs.
If you already have these in place, secure them firmly before your surgery.
Housekeeping and Cooking: Use a long-handled reacher
or grabber for objects too high or low for you to
reach without stretching or bending. Before your surgery, store essential
items at a convenient height. You can also carry small items in a basket
on your walker.
Foot Stool: If you don't own one, purchase one before your
surgery. It's important that you elevate your feet after walking each day.
Although these assistive aids are important in helping you resume your daily
activities, they generally aren't covered by insurance. They're usually well
worth the investment, though.
Reducing Accident Risks
With more furniture and - let's face it - clutter, accidents are more likely
to occur in your home than in your hospital room. You'll be especially at
risk while using your crutches, so take a few basic precautions to reduce
your risk of falling.
Before your surgery, tidy up around the house, removing anything that might
be a hazard. Temporarily move furniture or other obstacles to ease movement,
tape down electrical cords and remove small throw rugs.
If you find even some basic daily tasks difficult to perform during your recovery,
don't be shy to ask your family, friends and neighbors for help. That might
include meal preparation, laundry or trips to the pharmacist or grocery store.
Don't become frustrated by your limitations - as you continue to exercise
and strengthen your knee, you'll soon be able to perform your full range of
Your physical therapist will advise you when to stop using your crutches or
walker. One of the most important keys to your rehabilitation - and your return
to a normal, active life - is walking every day. Start with short, easy walks
and increase their distance and duration a little each day as your confidence
and strength return. Remember to rest your leg after walking, lying down in
a comfortable position and elevating your leg to help prevent swelling. Feel
free to use an ice pack if you find that it helps.