Karen Holt Prefers Rehab at Home

Karen Holt
A nurse and assistant clinical manager at The Miriam Hospital, Karen Holt spent time as a patient when she underwent knee replacement surgery at the Total Joint Center.

For some people, home is where the heart is. For others, home is where recovery happens. For Karen Holt, both were true.

Holt is a nurse and assistant clinical manager at The Miriam Hospital, so she has plenty of experience helping to coordinate operations and procedures at the hospital and its associated program, the Total Joint Center.

However, after years of dealing with arthritis, Holt found herself to be a patient of the Total Joint Center. In 2010, Holt’s left knee was replaced, and her right in 2017.

The timeframe wasn’t the only difference in the two replacements. After her first replacement, Holt chose to recover at a nursing facility.

“I was told I would need physical therapy every day,” Holt said. “I thought I would go to rehab for just physical therapy. I thought the healing would be faster and more efficient.”

While she did receive wonderful care and physical therapy, she found herself missing some creature comforts and her previous independence. “I found that in rehab, yes, I got good physical therapy, but after that hour of physical therapy, I had 23 hours of the day stuck in rehab,” Holt said. “I had no motivation to get up when I was just lying there, being waited on.”

So, when she received her second knee replacement in 2017, Holt decided to do something different. She decided to recover from her surgery at home, and have a physical therapist come to her house. “Recovering at home, you can get up at will, task yourself with different things,” Holt said. “And I moved around a lot more than in the nursing facility.”

“Moving around is key,” Holt said, “The more you move, the better you feel. And in a familiar environment like my home, I found myself moving around a lot more.”

From her role as a clinical manager, Holt knows the importance of staying active and moving after replacement surgery. Not only will getting up and moving help prevent blood clots after surgery, but after a knee replacement, it will help restore strength and mobility to the joint, getting you back sooner to your everyday activities and normal function.

“Moving around is key,” Holt said, “The more you move, the better you feel. And in a familiar environment like my home, I found myself moving around a lot more.”

Holt found quite a few other advantages to recovering at home as well. “My bed,” Holt said, laughing. “The comforts of my home, being able to make my own food, having access to all my things. I didn’t have to share a room with anyone like I did at the rehab center.”

“I wasn’t exposed to people with infections,” Holt added, her years of experience working at a hospital coming through. “That’s an important one. I kept away, so it lowered my own risk of infections.”

Karen Holt
For Holt, being discharged to her own home seemed to be the right decision.

Before her second knee replacement, Holt attended a pre-surgery class at the Total Joint Center, designed to educate patients on what to expect from the procedure and recovery. There, she said, she learned about the different options of where to recover.

“The care I received at the Total Joint Center was excellent,“ Holt said. “They encouraged people to discharge to home rather than a nursing facility, but they let me decide what I wanted to do and would be comfortable with.”

For Holt, being discharged to her own home seemed to be the right decision.

“I didn’t have any setbacks at all recovering at home,” Holt said. “In fact, the physical therapist was impressed with my level of recovery.”

While there are different options for recovery after the initial hospital stay, scientific evidence supports having physical therapy at home as the best option for most. With minimal home modifications, the encouragement of a loved one, and the support of a physical therapist and the staff at the Total Joint Center, most patients experience a fast and full recovery after joint replacement surgery.

“I’m glad I did it. It was worth the effort and time to get it done,” Holt said about her surgery and recovery. “Don’t wait until you can’t stand it. You get through the physical therapy for a couple weeks, you work out every day, you stick with it and it is worth it in the long run.”

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