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  • Melody Medley-Keith

Aquatic Therapy and Joint Replacements

Joint replacement is booming in America. Insurance covers the procedure and so many advancements have been made in surgical technique, implant manufacturing and pain management after surgery that people see it as a part of the aging process, like getting gray hair. Physical Therapy is extremely important for arthroplasty patients rehabilitated quickly so that they can return to the activities they enjoy, safely.

Joint replacement is a major surgery causing trauma to a patient’s body. Bones are sawed, drilled and chiseled. Ligaments, tendons and muscles are cut. After a joint arthroplasty, patients can expect swelling, bruising, stiffness and pain during recovery. Movement of the artificial joint will be different than the natural joint. Recovery from all of these traumas can be facilitated by a skilled Physical Therapist, restoring function and range of motion in a safe manner.

Specific exercises are used to help the patient recover from their specific joint replacement. Knee replacement patients must both bend and straighten their leg. Even though they have different exercises, the goal is the same for knees, hips, shoulders and ankles: improve range of motion and functional strength. Modalities, such as ice packs, heat, electrical stimulation, etc., will help decrease swelling and pain.

Aquatic physical therapy allows the patient to recover from a knee replacement with less pain. By unweighting the body this allows more freedom of movement. The natural properties of the water help with swelling and stiffness.

Joint replacement recovery is challenging and can be a long-term commitment, but a Physical Therapist will be a skilled expert, companion and friend, assisting the patient on the journey back to health and full function.

2020, Daily Press

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