Rehabilitation Following Knee Surgery

It Takes a Village

Putting off that knee replacement surgery will make rehabilitation longer, more difficult

Many times, people who have knee replacement surgeries don’t need inpatient rehabilitation if they’re young or in good physical condition prior to it.

But for those who have multiple physical conditions that have made keeping fit difficult or impossible, or don’t have spouses able to provide care—like helping them get out of bed and into a chair or standing up at a walker—inpatient rehabilitation like what we provide at Arbor Village is the ideal solution.

The stay for knee replacement rehabilitation isn’t long—about a month, generally speaking. The rehab consists of helping patients become somewhat mobile as soon as possible, as that reduces the risk of blood clots and speeds healing, so they learn to stand, putting weight on that leg fairly quickly.

But the main thrust of knee replacement rehabilitation is to improve range of motion in that knee. For this, most patients are put on continuous passive motion machines, which bend their knee to whatever angle the doctor prescribes—anywhere from zero to 40 or 50 degrees, an angle that increases over time. Some doctors prefer not to use the continuous passive motion machines, and then the physical therapist helps the patient bend their knee manually.

It’s hard work. Patients spend six to seven hours a day in inpatient rehabilitation, broken into two-hour sessions three times a day.

The length of the rehabilitation depends on how mobile the individual was before the surgery. If they waited too long to get the surgery, and became immobile, the leg is deconditioned, says John Florer, our director of rehabilitation, so the rehabilitation is more difficult.

When looking for a place to rehabilitate from knee surgery, discuss the issue with your surgeon, says Florer. They often have a list of rehab places they recommend. Also, always talk to friends who’ve had knee replacement surgery rehabilitation and learn about their experiences with different therapists.

Still, keep in mind that no two knee replacement rehabilitations are the same. Even if you’ve already had one knee replaced and the rehabilitation went very smoothly—or was very difficult—your experience may be completely different this time.

And if you’re considering having your knee replaced, remember that the longer you wait, the longer your rehabilitation time is likely to be.

 Arbor Village provides long term care and rehabilitation at 310 West Taft in Sapulpa.