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There’s No Place Like Home After Surgery

recovering-at-homeTraditionally, patients and doctors have opted for in-patient rehabilitation after total hip or total knee replacement surgery, despite the high costs. However, recent studies found that after joint replacement surgery, patients who live alone are happier and fare just as well, and possibly better, when recovering at home rather than staying at a rehab facility. 

The study, published by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, examined 769 patients who had undergone primary total hip replacement (THR) or total knee replacement (TKR). About 18% lived alone, all of whom were discharged home for outpatient rehab. Of these, almost 80% had friends or family nearby that could help provide support if necessary. 

Overall, there was no significant difference in complications, pain, functional outcomes, or patient satisfaction scores between people who lived alone and those who lived with others after the surgery. However, when recovering at home instead of spending an extra night at a hospital, patients saved an average of $10,776, amounting to almost $1.5 million total. Patients recovering at home were also found to avoid other complications — such as infections and blood clots — that they might experience in a rehab facility. 

“We found that patients living alone were able to safely recover without any increase in the rate of complications,” said Dr. William J. Hozack, an orthopedic surgeon who presented the study at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. “Even more strikingly, patients were generally happy and content being in the comfort of their own home during recovery.” 

Recent Australian research corroborated these results. To test whether a rehab facility offered more benefits than a home-based program, the research team randomly selected 81 knee replacement patients who received both inpatient rehabilitation and home-based care, and 84 who only received home-based care. There were no differences in pain, function, or quality of life six months after surgery between the groups. 

These studies conclude that given the emotional benefits, the lack of complications, and the cost savings, outpatient recovery can be a beneficial option for total joint replacement patients who live alone. 

Struggling with joint pain? Interested in learning more about your post-surgical options? Dr. Stickney, a Kirkland orthopedic surgeon, specializes in procedures including total knee replacement. Contact his office today.


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