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Surgery such as knee or hip replacement can offer improved mobility, but during the recovery, these procedures can take a serious toll on the body. It is essential to limit pressure on the area, and this can be achieved by adapting how you go about your regular day-to-day tasks.
Post-surgery, your range of motion will be limited, and this means that things you normally take for granted, like dressing, showering, sleeping, and even sitting, can be much more of a challenge. In addition to this, these activities may cause you pain, but there are some aids you can use to limit stress on the joint and make your daily life much easier and more comfortable.
This is especially important if you want to remain independent and not have to rely so heavily on your loved ones for support.
Before undergoing your hip surgery, it is essential to modify your bathroom to make toileting more comfortable and less stressful for the area that has been operated on.
Raised Toilet Seat
We recommend installing a raised toilet seat prior to your surgery, as this is something that will help to prevent excessive bending. After full posterior hip replacement, you should not bend by more than 90º. The height of your raised toilet seat will depend on the height of your toilet, and these typically come in either 2 inches, 4 inches, or 6 inches.
What’s great about this type of aid is that it is not a permanent fixture, so can be easily removed when other people need to use the toilet. The raised seat may also come with armrests which are excellent for providing additional support as you lower and raise yourself from the toilet.
This device will stop the knees from coming above the hips and will provide you with a much more comfortable and safe way to use the lavatory.
If you install a raised toilet seat with armrests, then you won’t need to install an additional frame. But there are also toilet frames available that are used to provide the user with extra support as they get on and off the toilet. It is important to lower and raise yourself gently and slowly without twisting as this can affect the hip after surgery, in some cases, causing it to dislocate.
Bathing & Showering
After hip surgery, you must not sit in the bathtub for at least three months, but your doctor will provide you with the most appropriate advice. In the meantime, you will need a variety of bathroom aids to make showering and bathing as painless and simple as possible.
Standing in the shower may be challenging after surgery and if you’re at all unstable on your feet, it can be dangerous. If you have a fall, this may require further surgery which will then increase the time you’ll spend in recovery. While you cannot sit on the bottom of the tub, it is possible to use a shower seat that will keep your joints at the correct angle and provide you with somewhere comfortable and safe to sit as you shower. Moreover, the armrests will provide you with support as you stand up.
It’s essential to look for a shower chair that features non-slip feet and that has a height between 17 and 18 inches from the floor, as this will stop you from bending more than the recommended 90 degrees. That said, you may also wish to look for an adjustable height chair to more comfortably match your stature. A metal chair will provide you with much greater durability and stability than a plastic one.
If you find it difficult to move into and out of the bath or shower after surgery, a transfer bench can make things easier. You have a choice between a sliding bench and a non-sliding bench, but both are designed to help with transfers for patients who cannot put pressure or strain on the hip joint.
A sliding transfer bench is a fixed device that requires an assistant to help operate. The user sits in the chair, and the caregiver will slide them into the desired position. On the other hand, a non-sliding bench is much more lightweight and portable. They feature handles that allow a caregiver to lift the person to their desired location. With locking systems and padded seats, they are safe and comfortable and are versatile enough to be used in all areas of the bathroom.
Your body has been through a lot during surgery, and as you recover, you may find that you are not as steady on your feet as you might usually be. However, if you don’t want to rely on a caregiver, installing grab rails in the bathroom will allow you to move around in a much safer manner.
Grab bars give you something to hold onto when getting into and out of the shower and increase your stability. When strategically placed around the room, they allow you to move around freely and safely.
If you only require temporary assistance, grab bars are ideal as they don’t have to be a permanent installation. There are many that attach with a suction cup so can be removed post-recovery. However, you will need to keep in mind that there is a maximum weight limit on these bars so you’ll need to check this before installing.
Hand-Held Shower Head
If you are sitting in a shower seat while bathing, then you may want greater control over the spray and that’s where a handheld showerhead becomes invaluable. These small pieces of equipment are ideal for patients looking to keep their wound dry while showering. Rather than water cascading down onto you, you have full control of where it is directed.
If there are other people living in the home who might not want a handheld shower head, it is possible to purchase dual kits that come with one fixed head and one removable.
It is important not to over-exert your hip after surgery, and twisting is not advised. However, it can be difficult to properly clean yourself when you cannot reach, but a long-handled sponge can make the job much simpler.
Using this type of equipment will prevent you from having to bend down; you’ll be able to wash the lower parts of your body thanks to improved reach. The long-handled sponge will also make washing your back easier without the need to twist your torso.
Non-Slip Suction Mat
A slip or fall in the shower is devastating at the best of times, but after hip replacement, could result in you having to have further operations. To limit the risk of this, we would suggest installing a simple non-slip suction mat that improves the grip on the base of the shower or tub. The suction cups grip the floor creating a secure bond so that the mat won’t slide around.
Many of us take our physical ability for granted, especially when it comes to doing simple day-to-day activities like getting dressed. However, after a hip replacement, your mobility will be limited, and you may need assistance with these things.
To negate the need for a caregiver, a leg lifter can be used independently by the patient and can aid with tasks like getting into bed. These devices can also be useful when getting into and out of the bath or shower.
The leg lifter hooks around the affected foot with a handle at the other end, allowing the patient to comfortably and safely maneuver the leg. They are commonly used after surgery as well as for conditions such as arthritis.
Dressing sticks are long rods that feature a hook at either end. They’re usually around 27 inches in length and are lightweight and easy to handle. Designed to help the user get dressed without the need to reach or bend, they are imperative after hip replacement surgery.
A hook at one end of the device allows you to pick up items from the floor as well as pulling up pants while the other end is used for securing zippers.
Long-Handled Shoe Horn
Regular shoe horns require the user to bend down; however, those found in a hip kit are much longer and allow the patient to put on their shoes without bending down. They’re usually anywhere between 18 and 32 inches in length.
A sock aid is a simple device that allows the user to put on their socks without having to bend at the hips. The sock fits over the flexible part, while long handles can be used to pull the sock onto the foot.
Securing your laces means that your shoes remain secure on your feet, preventing chafing and providing you with better stability. But bending down to tie them after hip surgery can be difficult yet elastic shoelaces limit how often you’ll need to tie your shoes. Once the elastic laces are secured, the user can put their shoes on with a shoehorn as if they were slip ons.
Avoiding bending when you’ve had hip surgery is essential, and a grabber, sometimes called a reacher, will allow you to pick up items from the floor while in an upright position. They are commonly used for dressing as well and are lightweight and easy to use.
You will have the choice of one of six different types of grabbers including a lightweight grabber, the adjustable grabber, folding grabbers, ergonomic grabbers, all-purpose grabbers, and those designed for outdoor use.
There are many types of adaptive clothing, but for hip replacement patients, pants are among some of the most useful. These garments are designed for maximum comfort and are made from soft materials that won’t irritate the wound site.
Moreover, they are designed to provide you with easy access to the surgery site meaning that treating the wound, icing it, and changing dressings are much easier, and you don’t need to completely undress.
Many adaptive pants feature zippers all down the sides meaning that you don’t need to struggle when pulling them on.
To save twisting and pulling your body, you might also consider purchasing easy-on tops which feature a wraparound design.
It is imperative to ensure that, after hip surgery, you sit in a comfortable and supportive position without raising the knees above the hips. Not all chairs are designed to meet this need, so you may need an adaptive aid.
The last thing you want after surgery is to be on your feet for a prolonged period. Hip chairs are quite frequently used for things like cooking as they allow you to get on with these daily tasks without the need to stand.
They will usually have features like anti-slip feet and adjustable height so you can set it to a height that suits you. Moreover, the hip chair features a padded seat and armrest for ultimate comfort. The armrests can also provide you with support when getting up and down.
Furniture risers come in varying sizes, usually between three and eight inches. They are used to raise furniture so that you do not need to move down as far.
A stand assist features a pneumatic spring that moves up and down, helping the user go from a seated to a standing position more easily. They can be used on almost all types of seats and are lightweight and portable.
Another style of stand assist is a set of bars that can be attached to the front of a couch or chair and feature handles that the user can grab onto to lift themselves.
You may feel slightly vulnerable when walking for the first time after surgery, but there are lots of options when it comes to choosing the right aid. Your physical therapist will likely explain the best equipment for you.
Walker or Rollator
A walker is a frame that can be used for support by people recovering from surgery. You hold onto the walker, moving it forward before taking a step. The operated foot then moves forward, followed by the other foot. These frames are lightweight, but for people with strength issues who may not be able to lift them, a rollator might be the better option.
A rollator is very similar to a walker but features two wheels at the front, meaning that the user does not need to lift it. While it is better for people with limited strength, it’s important to keep in mind that it doesn’t offer the same stability as a walking frame.
Cane or Crutches
A lot of patients find using a cane or crutches to be ideal after hip replacement surgery. These devices will reduce the amount of weight placed on the affected leg Canes are generally considered to be more stable and safe, especially for older adults. However, crutches come with the benefit of being height adjustable. Moreover, they are made from aluminum which is lightweight and easy to maneuver.
Canes will help with your balance as well as take pressure off the hip joint and are widely recommended by doctors following surgery. Some are fitted with wheels to allow those with limited strength to use them more easily.
A trolley walker is similar to a rollator but features a tray that can greatly improve independence. The user can take food, drinks, and other items from one room to another without assistance; ideal for those who live alone or have limited support.
The trolley features a sturdy metal frame that offers support for the user and helps to reduce pressure on the hip joints. They’re usually height adjustable, so you can set it to a level that is comfortable for you.
Even something as seemingly simple as sleeping and using your bedroom can prove to be a challenge after having hip surgery. Again, there are many assistive devices that can make life easier.
To prevent falls, bed rails provide the user with something stable to hold onto as they get into and out of bed. However, it is important to note that these rails are not designed to prevent the user from falling out of bed.
One part of the rail is inserted underneath the mattress while a handle extends up from the bed. It should have stable feet that stop the device from tilting. However, for taller beds, there are rails without feet.
If your bed is quite high, you may find it difficult to get into and out of. However, a step stool gives you a stable platform to give you a little more leverage.
To use the step stool safely, you should back up to the stool using a walker for support. You’ll then step your good foot up first, followed by the operated leg, all the while being aware of your hip precautions.
After surgery, you should avoid lying on the operated side but remaining comfortable is key. For the utmost comfort, you should place an abduction pillow between the knees as this will prevent the legs from crossing should you move in your sleep. If you need to turn over in bed, you should use the pillow to guide you so that, instead of twisting, you move your body as one whole unit.
Going to the bathroom during the night comes with many risks, including falling. By having a commode in the bedroom, you will be able to comfortably relieve yourself at night without having to walk to the bathroom. Commodes are usually height adjustable and so can be raised to a level that prevents more than a 90º bend when seated.
When you have had your hip replacement surgery, you must not get behind the wheel for at least six weeks. Your doctor will advise you when it is safe to do so. But you may still sit in a car as a passenger. Of course, this can be uncomfortable, especially when getting in and out so sourcing a number of aids can make it easier.
A handybar is a small device that attaches to the latch of the car door, and requires no modifications and provides the user with something to grip onto as they get into and out of the car. They are excellent for improving balance, and some even double as a glass breaker or seat belt cutter for emergencies.
A swivel seat is a portable device that is placed onto the regular car seat and moves up to 360º. This allows the user to swing themselves into and out of the seat without twisting. They are comfortable and so relieve pressure while in the seat and usually have a weight capacity of up to 300lbs.
Tips to Aid Recovery at Home After Knee or Hip Surgery
As well as making the most of the mobility aids we have discussed in this guide, it is also essential to do what you can to make your recovery easier. It can take up to 12 weeks to fully recover from hip surgery.
1. Eliminate Any Trip Hazards
There is a greater risk of falling when you have had hip surgery, so removing hazards is a must. You should make sure that there are no loose rugs on the floor and that furniture is placed so that it doesn’t pose a tripping hazard. Clear pathways should be made across any room.
Furthermore, it is important to move any loose electrical cables and ensure that there is no clutter on the floor.
2. Move Your Bed Down to the Ground Floor
If it is possible, we recommend moving your bed down to the ground floor as this will eliminate the need to climb the stairs which can put undue pressure on the hips as well as causing pain.
3. Use Ready Meals to Reduce the Need to Cook
Preparing meals can mean standing for long periods of time, which will put strain on the hip. Before your surgery, prepare batches of food that can be frozen and reheated as this will limit how much time you need to spend in the kitchen.
You might also consider using ready meals or tinned foods that require minimal preparation. The great thing about modern ready meals is that many can be delivered directly to your door and are made with healthy, fresh ingredients, so you don’t need to compromise.
4. Keep Essentials Close By
In order to limit how much you need to move around, it’s a good idea to keep your essential items nearby. This might include things like medication, reading glasses, or your cell phone. You should also make sure that any walking aids are left close to where you are sitting so that you don’t have to reach for them when you need to move.
When making food, you should place foods on shelves that do not require you to bend. This means placing food higher up in the fridge and lower down in wall-mounted cabinets.
5. Avoid Low Chairs
If you sit on a low chair, this will force your hip into a position that exceeds a 90-degree angle. It’s imperative that you only use furniture that is higher up. Using a hip chair is the best option, especially when you are prepping food. What’s more, this will limit the amount of time spent on the feet.
6. Don’t Flex Greater than 90 degrees
Your doctor will give you hip precautions after surgery, and one of these will be that you should not flex your hip more than 90 degrees. In any case, you should not put your hip into a position that causes discomfort, and you should also avoid twisting the joint. Crossing the legs should also be avoided.
7. Follow the Exercise Routine Prescribed by Your Physio
Your physiotherapist will provide you with exercises to do during your recovery. These are designed to increase your mobility and strengthen the new hip joint so it is essential that you don’t skip sessions, even if you don’t feel like doing the exercise. If you feel extreme pain or fatigue when completing the exercises, you should speak to your physio rather than simply not doing them.
8. Keep a Cordless Phone Close By
Hopefully, your recovery will go smoothly and you won’t have any accidents. However, in the event that you do, it’s essential that you can call for help so keeping a cordless phone or cell phone with you at all times will ensure you can always access support.
9. Ensure You Use Adequate Lighting
While there may not be any problems with your vision, low light means that you won’t always see tripping hazards. To prevent falls, you should make sure that everywhere is well illuminated, especially at night for things like trips to the bathroom. Areas such as hallways and stairs are also hazardous, so lighting here should be adequate.
10. Wear Sensible Footwear
Your footwear should be supportive and provide you with a good grip on the floor. Make sure that the soles are non-slip and that the shoe secures tightly around the foot for extra stability. After hip surgery, you should never wear heeled shoes, those without straps or flip flops.
11. Avoid Carrying Items
Carrying items, particularly heavy ones, come with a risk of straining yourself, and when your body is recovering, this is the last thing you want. You should opt instead for a trolley walker, like those we discussed earlier to take your meals through to another room as well as move other items. Not only will this put less pressure on you but will make transporting food safer as there is less risk of you falling.
You might also consider buying something you can carry items in such as an apron with pockets or a bag that attaches to your walker. This will ensure that your most important items are always close to hand and will leave your hands free for other things like operating your walking aids.
12. Ensure Your Bed is at the Correct Height
It’s important to make sure that your bed is at the right height, and this can be done through the use of things like furniture risers. If these are not available, you might use a step stool to give yourself easier access to the bed, but this should be done with caution to avoid falling.
If you want the ability to adjust the height of the bed, you might consider buying or renting a hospital bed. These are designed so that the foot and head ends can be independently moved and the overall height of the bed adjusted.