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Mobility techniques to practice before total knee replacement surgery

After knee replacement surgery, you may need to move differently until your knee heals. Practice the following techniques before surgery so you know what to do after surgery.

Getting in and out of bed

  • Back up until you feel the bed against the back of your legs.
  • Place your involved leg forward.
  • Reach for the bed surface, lowering yourself slowly to the edge.
  • Scoot back on the bed until your knees feel supported.
  • Gradually turn your body until you are straight in the bed.
  • When getting out of bed, come to a sitting position on the bed.
  • Push with your hands and slide your body across the bed until you are sitting at the edge.
  • Place your involved leg forward.
  • Push off the bed and stand up.
  • Do not reach for a walking device until your balance is secure.

Getting on and off a chair with arms or a toilet

  • To sit down, back up until you feel the chair against the back of your legs.
  • Place your involved leg forward.
  • Reach back with both hands and sit down.
  • To get off the chair/toilet, slide to its edge.
  • For comfort at first you may want to place your involved leg forward, but the goal is for you to tuck both legs under the chair/toilet for leverage.
  • Push off with your arms while leaning forward slightly.
  • Do not reach for a walking device until your balance is secure.

Getting on and off an armless chair

  • If the chair does not have arms, approach it from the side.
  • Place your involved leg forward.
  • Reach back for the side edge of the chair and sit down, then turn yourself to face forward in the chair.
  • To get out of the armless chair, turn yourself so you are sitting sideways in the chair.
  • Place your involved leg forward.
  • Push up from the chair with both hands.
  • Do not reach for a walking device until your balance is secure.

Getting in and out of the tub

It is a good idea to have hand rails or grab bars to help with your balance and support. Have someone nearby the first few times you use the tub or shower to provide balance assistance if needed. Talk to your occupational therapist for other tips that will work for your bathroom.

  • If you have a tub/shower combination, use a tub chair.
  • Approach the chair from the side then place your involved leg forward.
  • Reach back for the edge of the tub seat or hand rail and sit down.
  • Lift each leg into the tub. If you can't use your own muscles to move your involved leg, you can use your cane or crutch or a wide belt to lift your leg in and out of the tub.
  • To get out of the tub, bring each leg over the tub edge.
  • Push up from the chair with both hands or use hand rails to pull yourself up.
  • Do not reach for a walking device until your balance is secure.

Going up and down stairs

Your therapist will review stair climbing with you in the hospital.

  • Remember to go up the step with your uninvolved leg first, then bring your involved leg up to the same step. "Up with the good."
  • Also remember to go down the step with your involved leg first, then bring your uninvolved leg down to the same step. "Down with the bad."

Getting in and out of a car

A large plastic bag on the car seat may help you move more easily. Anytime you are getting in or out of the car, have the driver park about 4 feet out from the curb edge and not on an incline. Also make sure that the surface you'll be walking on is free of ice and snow.

  • Back up to your car seat. Place your involved leg forward.
  • Reach back and find a stable hand hold (for instance, dashboard, back of seat, stable car door).
  • Slowly lower yourself onto the seat.
  • Scoot back on the car seat. Lean back and bring each leg into the car.
  • When getting out of the car, slide closer to the driver's seat. Bring each leg out of the car first.
  • Scoot to the edge of the seat and place your feet on the street (not on the curb).
  • Using the same hand holds, push with both legs (if comfortable) and arms to stand.
  • Do not reach for your walking device until your balance is secure.

Reaching, bending, carrying