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Senior Citizen's Guide to Chicago

My Knees Are Killing Me
Choosing Rehabilitation Services

Boomers started the fitness movement – we always intended to wear out, not rust away. And that commitment to fitness may be taking its toll. Orthopedists say they are seeing younger patients seeking knee and hip replacement surgery. When topical creams, over-the-counter medications, and other recommendations by healthcare professionals are not enough, joint replacement may eliminate pain and increase mobility.

Rehabbing from Joint Replacement

Rehabilitation from joint replacement surgery is much easier now than it was earlier. Oh, it’s no picnic, but today’s rehab can involve warm-water therapy, deep-tissue massage, WiFi, catered meals – and Medicare usually covers the costs.

Because joint replacement surgery can be planned to fit your schedule, you can take your time choosing the facility that will oversee your rehabilitation. The physician’s staff may offer you a list of rehab centers, but then it’s up to you. What should you look for?

Specialized physical and occupational therapies are provided on an inpatient or outpatient basis to help individuals reach a high level of function with daily activities. Rehabilitation locations may be free-standing, in connection with a hospital, or be a part of a retirement community.

Some rehabilitation centers offer a team of physicians, nurses, and therapists to develop a comprehensive plan for each patient. Physical therapists provide strength training and range-of-motion exercises. Occupational therapists help patients practice daily tasks, like cooking in a model kitchen, or getting in and out of a car.

There are rehab centers that focus on building relationships between therapists and patients – setting up a team assigned to a patient throughout their stay and for therapy that continues after discharge.

Questions To Ask at the Rehab Center

Visit two or three rehabilitation centers prior to your surgery. Ask friends and trusted counselors for their input about local rehab facilities. These centers should be happy to give you a tour and answer questions about your care.

During the visit, are you comfortable with what you see and hear? Be ready to ask key questions, such as:

Rehabilitation can be a slow and difficult process, but patients in rehab often build rapport with other patients and begin to encourage one another. Choose a rehabilitation center that is reputable, makes you feel comfortable and, if at all possible, close enough for your family to be supportive.

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