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Mobility and activity techniques for daily living

  • After surgery, you may need to move differently until you heal. Practice the following techniques before surgery so you know what to do right after surgery.

    Getting in and out of bed

    Getting in and out of bed
    • Back up until you feel the bed against the back of your legs.
    • Place your surgical leg forward.
    • Reach back for the bed surface, lowering yourself slowly to the edge.
    • Scoot back on the bed in a diagonal direction until your knees feel supported.
    • As you turn your body to get into bed, you may need to use a leg lifter or someone to help lift your surgical leg.
    • When getting out of bed, come to a sitting position on the bed.
    • As you turn your body to get out of bed, you may need to use a leg lifter or someone to help move your surgical leg.
    • Lean back as you push with your hands to help move your body forward until you are sitting at the edge of the bed.
    • Place your surgical leg forward.
    • Push up from 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

    Getting out of a chair with arms
    • To sit down, back up until you feel the chair against the back of your legs.
    • Place your surgical leg forward.
    • Reach back for the arms of the chair with both hands and sit down on the edge of the seat, then slide back.
    • To get off the chair, slide to its edge.
    • Place your surgical leg forward.
    • Push up with both arms and your nonsurgical leg.
    • Do not reach for a walking device until your balance is secure.

    Getting on and off a toilet

    • To get on and off a toilet, follow the steps above for getting on and off a chair.
    • Using a raised toilet seat may make it easier and safer for you to get on and off the toilet.
    • When sitting or standing, support yourself with grab bars or nearby structures (sink, counter) that are secure.

    Getting socks, pants and shoes on and off

    Getting socks, pants and shoes on and off
    • A sock aid helps you put on socks without bending.
    • You may need a sock aid and reacher to get dressed.
    • Putting socks on:
      • Slide the sock onto the sock aid. Be sure the heel is facing down and the toe is tight against the end.
      • Hold the cords. Drop the sock aid out in front of your surgical foot.
      • Slide your foot into the sock (all the way to the end if possible) and pull it on.
      • Use the strings to pull the sock over your foot.
    • To take your socks off, insert the reacher into the back of the sock and push your sock over your heel and off your foot.
    • Use the reacher to dress your surgical leg first and undress your surgical leg last.
    • Wear slip-on shoes or use elastic shoelaces and a shoehorn.

    Getting in and out of the tub

    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.

    • Using a shower chair can make it easier to get in and out of the tub.
    • Approach the chair from the side then place your surgical leg forward.
    • Reach back for the shower chair or hand rail and sit down.
    • Scoot back on the seat.
    • Lean back as you lift each leg into the tub. You may need help to lift your surgical leg into the tub.
    • To get out of the tub, lean back as you lift each leg out. You may need help to lift your surgical leg.
    • Place your surgical leg forward.
    • Push up from the shower chair.
    • Do not reach for a walking device until your balance is secure.

    Getting in and out of a walk-in shower

    Getting in and out of a walk-in shower
    • Approach the shower and then turn around backward to enter.
    • Have the walker or crutches with you to provide balance and help you maintain your activity restrictions. It is also helpful to have:
      • someone to help you
      • a grab bar
      • a shower chair
      • a nonskid mat
        Important: If you cannot maintain your activity restrictions, it is not safe to use a walk-in shower at this time.
    • Getting into the shower:
      • Step into the shower with your nonsurgical ("good") leg first.
      • Then step into the shower with your surgical ("bad") leg.
      • If a shower chair is available, reach for the seat and slowly lower yourself into a sitting position.
    • Getting out of the shower:
      • If using a shower chair, push up from the seat and slowly stand.
      • Step out of the shower with your surgical ("bad") leg first.
      • Then step out of the shower with your nonsurgical ("good") leg. 

    Reaching, bending, carrying

    • FOR HIP REPLACEMENT ONLY: Do not bend or reach in low cupboards. Use a device like a reacher when possible. Cupboards can also be arranged to eliminate bending.
    • FOR KNEE REPLACEMENT ONLY: Use a reliable support like the countertop or table when bending and reaching in low cupboards.
    • FOR KNEE REPLACEMENT ONLY: A reacher can help reduce strain on your back when picking objects up from the floor.
    • Do not carry or hold anything in your hands while using a walker or crutches. Use pockets in an apron, tool apron, clothing, fanny pack or backpack.
    • Do not reach too far when you slide objects across a countertop.
    • Try using a rolling cart to move heavy, hot or breakable items.

    How to go up and down stairs

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

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

    Getting in and out of a car

    Getting in and out of a car, all three steps

    A large plastic bag on the car seat may help you move more easily. Also, a firm pillow under your buttocks may be needed to increase the seat height so your hips are higher than your knees.

    Anytime you are getting in or out of the car, have the driver park about four 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 surgical leg forward.
    • Reach back and find a stable hand hold (dashboard, back of seat).
    • Slowly lower yourself onto the seat.
    • Scoot back on the car seat. Lean back as you lift each leg into the car. You may need help to lift your surgical leg.
    • When getting out of the car, slide closer to the driver's seat and lean back as you lift each leg out of the car. You may need help to lift your surgical leg.
    • Scoot to the edge of the seat and place your feet on the street (not on the curb). Place your surgical leg forward.
    • Using the same hand holds, push up with your arms and your nonsurgical leg to stand.
    • Do not reach for a walking device until your balance is secure.

    Tip

    Do not use a walker to pull yourself up from a sitting position. This could cause you to fall.