Equipment and Supplies

Walking Aids
Nearly all patients are allowed full weight bearing immediately after surgery, using a walker or crutches initially and advancing to a cane or no support at all when able to walk without a limp. If you can borrow a walker or crutches before your surgery, you can practice. If you will be allowed only partial weight bearing, you can walk over a bathroom scale to see how many pounds you are actually bearing.

Many patients find walkers much more stable than crutches. Some prefer crutches if they are already used to them. Post-operatively medication may make you feel dizzy and heighten the risk of a fall. If you have young children or dogs moving frenetically about your house, the walker will provide a “safe cage”. The hospital PT will order a walker for you prior to discharge from the hospital. Most insurance companies will pay for your walker. Again, you may want to check with your insurance company prior to your surgery to confirm this. Otherwise, you will have to make arrangements to buy or borrow one to take to the hospital upon discharge and for use at home.

Many people attach carrying bags or baskets to their walker to make carrying things with them easier. Experiment with tie on bags, fanny packs, trays and wire baskets. You may want to put Velcro on the front leg of the walker and the corresponding piece on your reacher. Some people prefer to wear an apron with pockets or a fanny pack around their waist.

You will be given a reacher prior to discharge from the hospital. A reacher is a long stick with a mechanical grabber on the end. It will aid you in picking up items off the floor and getting dressed. The Occupational Therapist in the hospital will teach you how to use your reacher before discharge. There are two types of reachers: one type has a claw extension at the end, and the other has two suction cups on each pincher. Both types are useful for different things. See if the PT or OT at the hospital will let you play with the assortment of reachers to decide which one works for you. If you get home and find you need a second one or the other type, you can oftenget this inexpensive device delivered by the medical supply house you are using.

A cordless phone is handy for convenience and safety.

A bed-writing table is useful for sitting up and eating or doing projects in bed.

Pain Control
Most people prefer to use the painkillers they have become accustomed to using prior to surgery. Using a painkiller with which you are familiar helps you avoid unpleasant side effects and dosing unfamiliarity. Ice packs are helpful for swelling around the incision. Alternating heat and ice can be helpful for muscle soreness. Massage should be avoided, because it can dangerous if an undiagnosed blood clot exists. Rest and relaxation techniques are helpful to release muscle tension.

You will want to avoid clothing that is tight or rubs on the incision and requires extensive bending and pulling to put on or take off. The incision site is sore at first, so some people buy boxers or very loose underwear that won’t irritate the incision. Loose clothes or dresses are easy to put on and essential if you experience post-operatively swelling. You can use your reacher to help pull on your clothing, but don’t set yourself up for a daily struggle.

You will need to have a pair of comfortable shoes with non-skid soles to wear post-operatively. They should adjust to accommodate any swelling in your foot. You will not be able to tie your shoes and you will tire of needing someone to help you. Regular tennis shoes can be fitted with curly elastic laces to become slip on shoes. Long handled pliers can be used to pull Velcro straps closed, and long handled shoehorns can be useful. Make sure you try the shoes out before you get to the hospital. They need to feel secure, as you will be taking your first steps post-operatively in them, at a time when you won’t be feeling too secure. Do not wear heels, slippery soles or sandals.

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