By: Deborah Fenton, RN, care coordinator, MemorialCare Joint Replacement Center, Long Beach Medical Center

For many people, elective joint replacement surgery is the first step toward bringing movement back to their lives. At the MemorialCare Joint Replacement Center at Long Beach Medical Center, the joint replacement program is designed to help patients return to their active lifestyles as quickly as possible.

The joint replacement program empowers patients to play a key role in their successful recovery by inviting them to choose a rehab “coach” to support them in their joint replacement experience. However, having a rehab coach is optional and not a requirement to participate in the joint replacement surgery program.

The coach role is typically fulfilled by a friend or relative who can help the patient during their time in the hospital and at home after joint replacement surgery. Here are some of the roles and responsibilities of a rehab coach:

  • Attend a pre-operative (pre-op) class with the patient and learn what to expect, as well as the most effective ways to help the patient through their recovery — or as it’s called at Long Beach Medical Center “Cruise to Recovery.”
  • Participate in at least one session of group physical therapy during the patient’s hospital stay.
  • Help care for pets while the patient is in the hospital and when they return home.
  • Take the patient home from the hospital.
  • Care for the patient at your home for at least a week or until the patient is confident enough to stay on their own with no help.
  • If needed, help manage household tasks like picking up groceries, running errands, completing daily chores, preparing meals, etc.
  • “Coach” the patient with rehab as learned in group therapy and recommendations provided by the care team.
  • On the day of surgery, the patient’s rehab coach can provide support at patient registration and should be available after surgery for any updates from the patient’s surgeon.
  • Once the surgery is complete, the patient and their coach can celebrate their daily progress and successes, like feeling less pain, increased mobility, and recognizing the patient’s hard work to regain their independence.

Rehab coaches play an important role, providing encouragement as patients get used to their new joint. Some other supportive aspects of the joint replacement program include:

  • The Patient Guidebook: An educational tool for patients, physicians, physical and occupational therapists, and nurses. Keep in mind that this is just a guide, patient’s and coaches should always follow recommendations set by the patient’s care team first.
  • Pre-Education Class: Preparation through education will support the patient on their journey through surgery, discharge and recovery, and is essential for optimum results in joint surgery.
  • Group Therapy: Patients participate in joint replacement group therapy, twice per day while in the hospital.

To learn more about the MemorialCare Joint Replacement Center at Long Beach Medical Center, call (877) 696-3622 or visit our section on Joint Replacement.