Mercy_First_SPR11_LrgWEB_2Comprehensive Care for Every Type of Patient

Today’s joint replacement patients are as different as the injuries that bring them to seek treatment, but all have the same goal; to get back to a healthy lifestyle. But all that has changed. There are nearly 800,000 hip and knee replacement surgeries in the United States each year, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Now, thanks to advances in technology and surgical techniques an increasing number of patients are people in their 30s, 40s and 50s.

At Mercy’s Comprehensive Orthopedic Center, highly skilled orthopedic surgeons perform hip, knee and shoulder joint replacements for people of all ages, while a multidisciplinary team of rehabilitation specialists provides personalized, compassionate support from before surgery through recovery. "It's the full continuum of care," says Subhash Shah, MD, chief of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. "We all work very closely together to ensure the patient has a very positive experience and fast recovery."

About joint replacement
The joint is where two bones come together. Cartilage is the rubbery tissue that covers the end of bones where they meet at a joint. It helps bones glide smoothly over each other at the joint. Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, injuries or just years of use can cause the cartilage in a joint to wear away, and that can lead to pain, stiffness and swelling in the joint.

Joint replacement surgery is recommended for people if joint pain has become so bad it interferes with everyday life, and if other treatment options, such as pain medication and physical therapy, have failed. In joint replacement surgery, surgeons remove the old joint and replace it with a prosthesis, an artificial joint. The most common joint replacement surgeries are hip and knee. Mercy’s orthopedic surgeons offer both less-invasive and traditional hip and knee joint replacement. Shoulder joint replacement is much less common, and Mercy is one of a few area hospitals to offer the surgery.

It used to be that joint replacement was not recommended for younger patients because the prosthesis would wear out and another surgery to replace the joint would eventually be required. Now that artificial joints are more durable and longer lasting, however, joint replacement is a viable treatment option for people of all ages.

The Mercy experience
If you and your physician decide it’s time for joint replacement surgery, Mercy’s orthopedic and rehabilitation specialists will work with you to ensure as smooth an experience as possible - beginning even before surgery. Twice a month, rehabilitation therapists and nurses conduct a free educational session at the hospital to help patients and caregivers understand what to expect before, during and after joint replacement surgery.

It's an opportunity for patients and their families to raise questions or concerns they might have, explains Marilyn Leverson, OTR/L, Director Rehabilitation Services. "The education sessions are provided by the therapists who will provide the care after surgery; the patient gets to know the therapist and that helps to put them at ease."

Then, very soon after surgery, Mercy's therapists come to the patient's bedside and start rehab exercises. Every patient's therapy program is custom made, Dr. Shah says, and takes into account individual strengths, weaknesses and abilities. "Because we work so collaboratively, we're able to really personalize our services and focus on each patient's special circumstances," Dr. Shah says. "That's one of the reasons our length of stay is shorter than many other hospitals."

Continuing care
Before a joint replacement patient is released from Mercy, the therapists and hospital social workers ensure the person has everything he or she needs to continue the recovery at home. That might mean arranging for home health and scheduling outpatient therapy or follow-up appointments, or helping a patient obtaining walking aids or other assistive devices.

Mercy offers outpatient rehabilitation at the hospital and three other convenient locations throughout the community. For patients completing their therapy at the hospital, Mercy provides free transportation with curbside pick-up. "It's one more way we're helping to ensure that patients are getting the therapy they need so they can have a successful recovery," Leverson explains.

Outpatient therapy is provided only by professional-level staff—not aides or assistants, as is common in other rehab facilities. And all therapists are highly trained and participate in ongoing education so they’re up to date on latest treatment practices and techniques, Leverson adds.

For patients who are too frail to go home and require skilled nursing care, Mercy offers follow-up and specialized rehab at a nearby skilled nursing facility. "At most skilled nursing facilities, you don't get supervised care from a rehab medicine physician," Dr. Shah says. "But because we have this relationship, we are able to make sure the rehabilitation plan is being followed and the patient is progressing as expected."

It's another example of the continuity of care Mercy provides joint replacement patients, he says. "Because our patients' independence and quality of life is so important to us, we do everything we can to increase their chances for a smooth recovery."


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