Increasing Range of Motion After Double Knee Replacement
In the United States alone, over 600,000 knee replacements are performed each year, mostly among adults age 65+, but at increasingly younger ages also. Following a knee replacement surgery, patients endure months of physical therapy in order to properly recover from the procedure.
Georgia Physical Therapy, a prominent advocate for aquatic therapy, constantly helps patients recovering from surgeries. “Patients love the pool. People love the pool. Once they get in there I think they feel, ‘I could be this much better on land’… There is a little more glimmer of hope,” says Bonnie Spears the clinical director and physical therapy assistant at Georgia Physical Therapy. Orthopedic surgeries such as knee or hip replacements are a frightening process for many people due to the rigorous rehab following the surgery. Aquatic therapy gives patients a sense of comfort as they begin the process of rehabilitation.
Claire Rivera was constantly trying to control her intense knee pain and alleviate a serious case of arthritis that was constantly bothering her. She knew something needed to be done and she decided to undergo a double knee replacement in the summer or 2015.
Shortly after her surgery, Claire began aquatic therapy in the HydroWorx 500 Series at Georgia Physical Therapy. At the start, Claire was unable to completely straighten her knee, known as a flexion contracture, which decreased her full range of motion. The full range of motion in a healthy knee is 0° of extension (completely straight) to 135° of flexion (fully bent knee joint). Claire only had about 85°-90° of flexion and was nowhere near full extension.
The specialists at Georgia Physical Therapy immediately began to try to improve Claire’s range of motion in the therapy pools. Patients in the pool feel as if they are a fraction of their true weight, due to the buoyancy of the water, so they can exercise without fear of further injuring themselves. Claire also had a history of lower back pain, so it was imperative to make sure she did not aggravate her back while focusing on rehabilitation for her knees. The pool not only helped Claire walk correctly, but she also greatly increased her range of motion without any stress on her lower back. In regards to aquatic therapy, Claire said,
“I thoroughly enjoyed that part because there was no pain to it and it got me stretching and walking better.”
After months of rehabilitation at Georgia Physical Therapy using the aquatic therapy pools, Claire made a full recovery. The underwater treadmill gave Claire the confidence and capability to once again walk correctly. Looking back on her time at Georgia Physical Therapy, Claire said, “I feel like my knees are 100% and they’re more reliable than my own knees ever were. So I’m happy!”
Watch Claire’s story and rehabilitation below:
For more information on how aquatic therapy can help joint replacement patients, download our tip sheet now>>