With the onset of severe winter weather at the beginning of the year, it’s always important to remember that safety is never more important than during your post-operative healing window.
In winter, staying comfortable and mobile becomes more difficult due to weather conditions. Sometimes these conditions can become even more hazardous if you live in Northern states where ice, sleet, and snow are practically unavoidable. For hip replacement patients, following safety procedures is critical to ensuring a safe recovery that maintains the best post-surgery outcome.
Even though computer assisted hip replacements allow patients to enjoy faster recovery times and less discomfort, the fact remains that there is a period of time after surgery where extra care must be taken whenever a patient is active. Between physical therapy sessions, getting groceries, or simply walking down the sidewalk to your mailbox, staying still isn’t practical.
Anyone who has undergone a hip replacement surgery should carefully follow these winter safety tips to make sure they avoid slip and fall injuries that could endanger the outcomes of the surgery.
Winter Safety Tips for Hip Replacement Patients
The safety of my patients is top priority, so I’ve put together this short guide to staying safe during the winter months after your hip replacement surgery.
Use Snow and Deicing Services
Once winter begins, the occurrence of heart-attacks and other exertion-related cases increase dramatically in hospitals. However, slip and fall injuries also increase during the winter months for similar reasons: people are forced out of their homes to keep walkways clear, and walk through icy environments just to complete everyday tasks.
Whenever possible, patients who have undergone a hip replacement surgery should use professional snow and deicing services. Not only does this maintain easy access s to your mailbox or your car, it also greatly reduces the possibility of a slip and fall; especially compared to clearing these paths yourself.
Walking Outside? Use Traction Cleats
Staying indoors for an entire season is not only impossible, but it’s also not recommended. Careful physical activity is an important part of the healing process after hip replacement surgery, not to mention the mental health impact of staying sedentary for long periods – which won’t help your recovery. We recommend that patients exercise extreme caution and consider the use of anti-slip cleats to improve traction.
Anti-slip cleats simply attach to the bottom of your shoes to create additional traction to avoid slips and falls during icy conditions. Similarly to soccer cleats, these accessories give patients additional stability while they navigate slippery sidewalks and snow that tends to give way under the weight of each step.
Though patients should still navigate wintery sidewalks slowly and carefully, traction cleats can help keep patients from damaging their newly replaced hip.
Use a Walker in Icy Conditions
If you are only a few weeks into your recovery period, we recommend using a walker in snowy and icy conditions. By offering more stability and support, walkers are a good method of preventing slips and falls on treacherous surfaces, especially when combined with traction cleats for additional grip.
As with automobiles, regardless if you have 4 wheel drive, ice is known as the great equalizer.
It’s important to keep in mind that walkers aren’t infallible against icy conditions. Ice is proven to be one of the most difficult environments for people to navigate regardless of developments in technology and accessories used. Keeping that in mind, walkers improve mobility, stability, and balance, all of which could help avoid a fall in winter conditions.
Take it slow!
Perhaps the most important tip that we have for our hip replacement patients during the winter months is to take it slow!
Walking through the snow and ice is difficult for everyone and safety is a concern for individuals of every age and health range, taking it slow after a hip replacement is an absolute must, and is essential to a normal post surgery outcome
As snow tends to crumble and crunch underneath our feet, make sure you are stepping slowly and carefully to avoid getting the toes of your shoes caught on piles of snow. Similarly, take careful steps when going up or down stairs, moving up and down ramps, or stepping from a sidewalk to a street as these are areas where ice and slush tend to gather and create additional hazards.
For more information and tips, please reach out to us. Our team would be glad to help in any way that we can