Orthopedic Surgery and Injuries

If you or a loved one has undergone surgery for an orthopedic trauma, or for an orthopedic condition caused by aging or a degenerative disease, and are experiencing a major complication in the healing process, it’s critical to have the best possible support and care for the challenging recovery process. Kindred Hospitals specialize in creating customized care plans for those who have suffered major complications following an orthopedic injury. We incorporate the critical elements of rehabilitation into a personalized program, to ensure you or your loved one can make a successful recovery and a smooth transition from hospital to home. 

What Are Orthopedic Injuries?

Orthopedic conditions include any impairments that affect the musculoskeletal system, which is made up of bones, joints, and soft tissues like muscles, tendons, and ligaments. These issues can be present from birth, can result from congenital diseases or aging, or can be caused by an orthopedic injury. While some orthopedic injuries can heal on their own with time and rest, orthopedic trauma is often severe, complex, and life-altering. Orthopedic trauma refers to a sudden, acute orthopedic injury, such as a fracture, dislocation, or torn ligament. These types of injuries most commonly result from serious accidents, and they require immediate treatment to prevent further damage. This often includes a consultation with an orthopedic trauma surgeon, and in many cases, surgery. The majority of orthopedic surgeries are performed on wrists, elbows, shoulders, spine, hips, knees, and ankles. Depending on the situation, they might be performed as open surgery, or with a less invasive arthroscopic method.

Causes and Symptoms of Orthopedic Injuries

There are a number of degenerative disorders that cause dysfunction within the musculoskeletal system — arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome and fibromyalgia being some of the most prevalent. Orthopedic conditions like these are constantly recurring, or chronic, and are one of the leading causes of doctor visits. In severe cases, a person with a chronic orthopedic impairment may require surgery. Joint replacement and fusion procedures, often performed to relieve arthritis, are some of the most common types of orthopedic surgeries, and carpal tunnel release is one of the most common of all surgical procedures in the United States.

Orthopedic injuries and chronic conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system vary in severity, but pervasive and sometimes debilitating pain is almost always a factor.

Other symptoms include:

  • Stiff joints
  • Swelling or dull aches
  • Tingling or numb hands
  • Pain from repetitive motions
  • Weak, stiff and bruised muscles

As we age, our risk for musculoskeletal disorders increases. Elderly people have an elevated risk of orthopedic injuries from falls or accidents, which can result in broken wrists, ankles, ribs, arms, legs, feet, and pelvic or collar bones. Elderly patients who may be taking medications should speak with their doctors to see if their balance will be affected, and those at risk for osteoporosis should work with their physicians to identify the right diet and exercise plan to help prevent symptoms. However, younger individuals are not immune to orthopedic injuries. The majority of referrals to orthopedic trauma surgeons are a result of sports related injuries, indicating that participation in athletics, especially contact sports, is a significant risk factor for serious orthopedic injuries.

Complications from Orthopedic Injuries & Surgery

Because orthopedic surgeries are one of the most prevalent types of medical procedures, orthopedic trauma surgeons and surgeons that specialize in a particular aspect of orthopedics, like hand surgery or joint replacements, are well trained to efficiently correct any problems that may arise. However, as with all surgery, there is a small risk of excessive bleeding, infection, or an allergic reaction to anesthesia. Other possible complications from orthopedic surgery include nerve damage, lack of full range of motion, development of arthritis, scar tissue formation, and re-injury of the joint or soft tissue. 

Pain and swelling are to be expected after any surgical procedure, so orthopedic surgeons work closely with clinical teams to manage pain and monitor healing. Depending on whether a patient’s surgery is done traditionally or arthroscopically, the length of the hospital stay will vary. Some patients, especially those who experience complications or have complex injuries, may need more time to heal, in which case they would be moved to a transitional care facility that specializes in long-term care and orthopedic rehabilitation.

What Is the Best Path to Recovering from Major Complications following Orthopedic Injuries and Surgery?

There are a number of factors that contribute to the length of the recovery process after orthopedic injuries and surgery. Recovery plans that incorporate comprehensive orthopedic rehabilitation, experienced therapists, and advanced treatment technology are more likely to be successful and prevent reoccurrence of injury.

Upon admission to a Kindred Hospital, a personalized plan is designed to treat the medical complication as well as continue the recovery of orthopedic surgery.

Your care program could include:

  • An experienced team of doctors, nurses, and physical and occupational therapists
  • A dedicated physical rehabilitation unit
  • The latest in treatment technology
  • Programs to help you smoothly transition back home or to your next level of care
  • A multi-purpose lounge for you to enjoy throughout the day
  • Education and training for you and your loved ones

We encourage your loved ones to be part of your orthopedic rehabilitation program, including coming in to offer encouragement and observe therapy sessions. With your permission, family members are also welcomed to talk with staff, ask questions and get updates on your progress. 

“After orthopedic injuries or surgery, patients are vulnerable to major setbacks due to unforeseen complications. In these instances, it’s critical to immediately begin a comprehensive treatment plan to address the complex clinical situation and begin a rehabilitation program to gain function as quickly as possible,” says Dr. Sean Muldoon, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer for Kindred Healthcare’s Hospital Division. “At Kindred, we believe that holistic orthopedic rehabilitation, including physical and occupational therapy, advanced treatments and patient education, is the best way to get back to everyday activities.”


Success Spotlight: Alberta’s Story

Alberta is a semi-truck driver and one day while at work she fell and a truck rolled over her left leg, causing severe damage and fractures to her pelvis and femur. She was rushed to a general hospital where she underwent numerous surgeries to repair her fractures and also received extensive skin grafting and wound care.

Just a month after the accident and hospitalization, Alberta came to Kindred Hospital to continue her recovery and receive advanced wound care and rehabilitation. At the beginning, the greatest challenge her team of caregivers faced was managing her severe pain and to continue aiding the recovery of her wounds and fractures. Alberta completed a course of antibiotic therapy to resolve her infections and slowly but steadily healed both on the inside and out with diligent care from her team. Motivated, determined and hard-working, Alberta made excellent progress and in just under two months after arriving at Kindred, Alberta’s wounds were closed, she had regained the ability to take care of her daily needs and was beginning to walk with the aid of a walker.

“The people here have taken such good care of me,” Alberta effused before she was discharged to return home. “I was a mess when I came here, and now I am walking out the door!”

 


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