Have you been experiencing pain in your hip or knee? Are you having difficulty completing daily tasks, such as dressing, bathing, and making a meal?  Is it becoming more difficult to walk around your house, through the grocery store, or attend special events where there are stairs?  These are some important questions to consider before talking with your doctor about having a hip or knee replacement surgery.  The surgery, and the expected pain and inconvenience, can seem overwhelming, however the after effects can be life changing.  The therapy department at Veterans Memorial Hospital is here to help you through the transition from painful limiting joints to returning to a fulfilling productive life. 

Here are some helpful tips to think about before having a knee or hip replacement surgery.  For your joint replacement surgery, you are able to choose to have a local orthopedic surgeon, or be referred to a surgeon through your preferred health system, such as Mayo or Gundersen.  At Veterans Memorial Hospital, Dr. Val Lyons routinely performs knee and hip replacements. 

The expected length of stay in the hospital following a joint replacement surgery is 3 days to 2 weeks depending on your medical recovery rate.  If you choose to have your joint replacement surgery at another facility, you are welcome to be transferred to Skilled Care at Veterans Memorial Hospital, where you remain an inpatient while attending occupational and physical therapy.   Otherwise, following your discharge from another hospital to your home, you can participate in outpatient therapy or home health services. 

Sharon Snitker of Waukon chose to return to Veterans Memorial Hospital on swing bed care following her knee replacement.  “The therapy staff was all so encouraging,” states Sharon.  “Staying here on skilled care is so worth it.  They take such a great care of your and really help you recover.”

Following a joint replacement surgery, the therapy staff at Veterans Memorial Hospital develop a personalized course of treatment to help restore you to your prior level of functioning. The therapists will provide instructions on how to move your body and complete daily tasks (such as dressing, bathing, toileting, meal preparation, etc). 

Prior to surgery, there are a few things you can do to prepare your house to ensure for a successful joint replacement. Some suggestions on how to prepare your home are:

  1. Remove all throw rugs
  2. Remove furniture and clutter from pathways throughout your home
  3. Be aware that falls can occur if there are pets in the house
  4. Install railings along side of house entrance/exit steps
  5. Install grab bars near bathtub, shower, and toilet

The therapy staff at Veterans Memorial Hospital are here to assist you in the recovery process, and you are part of the team because you play a vital role in a successful recovery.  The occupational and physical therapists at Veterans Memorial Hospital are excited to work with you during your inpatient and outpatient program after your joint replacement surgery.  It is the therapy department’s goal to see that you regain function and ability to return to daily activities that you enjoy.

By: Tami Gebel, OTR/L, Veterans Memorial Hospital Occupational Therapist

Veterans Memorial Hospital


40 First St SE

Waukon, IA  52172

Veterans Memorial Hospital is a critical access hospital located in Waukon, a rural community in the very northeast corner of Iowa.