It's always nice to know when you are going through something tough that you're not doing it alone. That's so very true for patients at Avera McKennan recovering from joint replacement surgery. We got to watch as the 3000Th patient gets ready to graduate from Joint Camp while marking a major milestone at the hospital at the same time.
Nancy Klinkhammer is a Physical Therapist and Program Coordinator of Joint Camp at Avera McKennan. She says, "The sooner they move, the better they move. We actually get them up the day of surgery and move them to the edge of the bed. By that evening we have them sitting up in a chair. The next day they start joint camp. If they have surgery on Monday, they go home on Thursday. We do therapy twice a day (hour long sessions) while they're in the hospital which is usually 3 days. It sounds quick, but they are ready to get home. Patients do really well after hip and knee replacement."
One of the tools they use is a with a towel wrapped around it. It's a cheap option they can also do at home for physical therapy. Pat Erpenbach is no newbie to Joint Camp. She had her left knee replaced in February. She is also Joint Camp Member #3,000.
She says, "I have arthritis. The joint, or rather, the cushion in there is totally gone so they had to put in an artificial one so I can walk and be rid of the pain. I like this form of therapy. It's the camaraderie like you say if you're struggling you look at someone else and maybe they're having the same trouble you are. You know it gets better everyday and you see them improving too."
Nancy Klinkhammer says, "When people go home after a couple days they have to be able to get themselves out of bed and walk with a walker or crutches. We work on strengthening, but really mobility and getting up and moving as soon as possible. "
Once hip and knee replacement patients are discharged from the hospital, they will do one-on-one outpatient therapy 3 times a week to build on what they started in Joint Camp.
There are plenty of laughs, encouragement and even some grunting, but all the joint campers say they are happy campers because they are going through this together.