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Why bed rest and joint replacement are not a good combination

Decades ago, a common recovery directive was to stay in bed for a prolonged period of time. The reasoning was that voluntarily lying in a bed would give the body time to heal and get stronger. But today, research has shown that staying in bed is not the best medicine. Total bed rest is seldom prescribed, especially following joint replacement surgery. The main reason for this change in attitude is that the human body needs to be moving to function properly. When a person remains in bed, the process of deconditioning begins affecting nearly every part of the body. Here are six areas that can be negatively affected by prolonged bed rest.

1. Muscles and bones
When muscles aren’t used, they begin to weaken and twist. Within a week of bed rest, muscle strength can decrease by 20 to 30 percent. This loss of strength can affect balance and coordination. In addition, bones that aren’t performing their normal weight bearing function begin to lose density and become weaker.

2. The heart
The cardiovascular system works the best when the body is upright. When staying in bed, the heart needs to beat more quickly to move blood and is not able to pump the normal volume of blood throughout the body.

3. The lungs
The lungs have a more difficult time removing excess fluid when lying in bed which can lead to pneumonia. Breathing can become shallow while lying in bed and the proper level of oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange is decreased.

4. The skin
Lying in bed can put pressure on parts of the body touching the mattress and lead to bed sores. This pressure can also decrease blood flow to the skin.

5. Digestion
When a person is inactive, the appetite is suppressed. Fluid intake can also decrease. This leads to constipation and other digestive issues.

6. The brain
Staying in bed, along with the stress of recovery, can affect mental health since the brain isn’t operating as usual. Anxiety, depression, sleep disturbance and apathy are just some of the issues that can develop.

Better than bed rest
A time of reduced activity may still be part of your recovery process after a joint replacement but avoiding total bed rest has many advantages. By getting up and moving, the body begins operating the way it should. Moving the joint helps strengthen the muscles in and around the joint so that it operates better. Pain and swelling is often reduced when the blood is pumping properly into the affected area. Increased blood circulation also promotes healing and reduces the chance of blood clots forming.

Studies published by the National Institutes of Health has found that being physically active following joint replacement surgery can improve the success of the prosthesis placement, allowing for a greater outcome. It is important to control the amount of movement, however. This means working with your doctor and therapist who can prescribe the proper amounts and types of exercise and activity.

A partner in recovery
Choosing to stay in a short-term rehabilitation center can take the guesswork out of the proper amount of movement. Not only will medical needs be addressed quickly and effectively, therapy can be expertly delivered at just the right pace on state-of -the-art equipment for the best recovery possible.

Glenview Terrace can provide this high level of care at its Orthopedic Pavilion where guests work one-on-one with licensed therapists seven days a week on outcome-focused strategies designed to develop strength and endurance and range-of-motion.

Guests who choose Glenview Terrace for post-hospital rehabilitation after joint replacement surgery will have access to board-certified medical directors and physicians from local hospitals to ensure continuity of care. A clinical nurse liaison can complete a personalized assessment even before you leave the hospital to make sure all is ready upon arrival at Glenview Terrace. A nurse practitioner is on-site to work directly with your physician to help quickly diagnose and manage your medical needs. An orthopedic rehabilitation nursing manager will guide your nursing team so you can reach the best possible outcome while the director of therapy oversees your therapy goals.

This effective period of rehabilitation is set in elegantly appointed surroundings. Comfortable rooms with deluxe walk-in showers, satellite television and daily housekeeping services make your stay comfortable. Morning coffee and the newspaper are delivered to the rooms daily. An attentive concierge team is available to help fill special requests to make the stay as enjoyable as possible.

When you make the decision to have joint replacement surgery, also decide to recover at Glenview Terrace. With its outstanding clinical outcomes and acclaimed therapy, you can expect to get back to the independent lifestyle you desire. For additional information or to arrange a tour, visit or call 847-729-9090.

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