Setting up a total knee replacement for success

Extreme pain and the erosion of things she loves to do—this was Gail Philip’s reality. Her knees were so bad that when she met with surgeon Dr. Sunail Kumar, he looked at her X-rays and asked her which one she wanted done first.

“Both of my knees were really bad—bone on bone. I was living with constant pain,” says Gail. “For me, the worst thing was when I had to give up my garden.”

Gail’s physician set up an appointment with Sunail for an evaluation. Once he confirmed she needed surgery, Gail met staff in the Musculoskeletal Clinic, part of the Alberta Joint Health Institute (ABJHI). Camrose has one of the longest pre-op preparation programs in the province. The occupational therapist and the physical therapist work for both the Musculoskeletal Clinic and the hospital, so the transition in care is unique, allowing patients to work with the same team of people through their surgical journey. The hope is that strong connections and trust will be built, which will enhance recovery.

“We get people ready for their surgeries, including preparing them for what to expect. This can mean helping them get in shape, giving them exercises to do pre- and post-op, answering any questions or concerns they have and making sure that they’re going home to the best situation,” explains Christine Gregoire Gau, Occupational Therapist.

The ABJHI lays out the steps a patient will follow, from meeting with a surgeon, preparing for surgery, undergoing the surgery, and moving to recovery and rehab in the community. Gail says she felt well prepared but still was a bit anxious. 

Gail Philip, total knee replacement patient

“On the day of my surgery, I was both nervous and excited. I was wondering how much pain there would be and if I was going to get improvement and relief. My approach was to anticipate the worst pain, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised,” Gail says.

After her surgery and time in the recovery room, Gail went back to her room. Later that day, Christine got her up. The day after surgery, she was already getting physiotherapy in the hospital.

Occupational Therapist Christine Gregoire Gau works with Gail to get her moving and ready to go home.

“One of our goals is to get people up the day of their surgery. There is evidence that this can get them discharged sooner and doing better overall. We get most of our patients up that day,” says Christine.

After two days in the hospital, Gail went home. Her husband is her care buddy, and their two grown sons also came to help out right after surgery.

“I’m doing really well since my surgery. My family is totally amazed that I’m up and walking around, giving orders just like I always have,” Gail says.

Gail will continue to get followup from St. Mary’s Hospital and the Musculoskeletal Clinic team to support her recovery at home.

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