Currently I am on an inpatient clinical rotation in Kansas City. This past Tuesday morning I had the opportunity to observe 5 surgeries, 4 of which were total joints. Two of the surgeries were total hip replacements, 1 total knee, and 1 unicompartmental knee replacement (partial knee replacement).
The afternoon following the surgery, I performed a physical therapy evaluation with each of the patients. Each day I worked with them until they discharged from the hospital today (Friday). Seeing the entire process from start to finish really pieced together the entire rehabilitation process for me.
Being able to observe surgeries and interact with the surgeon empowered me to more fully understand the patient's pain. It allowed me to answer their questions more appropriately and gain a better understanding of exactly what structures were involved in the surgery.
Additionally, the hospital I am working at has a well developed joint center. (Recently named the best joint center in the region). Each day, for a total of 3 days, all of the total hips and knees would gather together for a 1.5 hour morning therapy session and a 1.5 hour afternoon session. Each session would include basic therapeutic exercise, precautions guidelines (for the hippies), and ADL training with both PT and OT. The patients were extremely happy with the group therapy sessions. Seeing other people go through the same pains and process as them seemed to make the rehab process easier.
In conclusion, I highly recommend observing any surgeries that you have the opportunity to see. It allows you to appreciate the integrity of the human body, understand more fully what your patient is experiencing, and ultimately be a better therapist.
James Heafner DPT, Chris Fox DPT, and Brian Schwabe DPT, CSCS are recent graduates of Saint Louis University's Program in Physical Therapy.