People Tend to Undergo Hip Replacement Surgery for Two Reasons:
To reduce pain and improve mobility. After all, who wants to live with constant pain? Hip replacement surgery is a significant procedure. After your doctor clears you to leave the hospital, it is essential for the body to rest and recover.
The great news is that an affordable piece of equipment can maximize comfort, improve safety, and enhance surgical recovery while at home.
We are talking about the one…the only…raised toilet seat. This delightful gadget elevates the height of the sitting surface, and creates a better bathroom experience.
An additional model, called a toilet frame, comes with armrests, for improved handling and security. We will go more into detail later on in this post.
Why Is a Raised Toilet Seat Needed After Hip Replacement Surgery?
A total hip replacement used to be a huge, healing endeavor years ago requiring weeks of immobility. Nowadays, a patient goes into surgery, has the artificial hip put in, and then they are expected to be walking and putting weight on the operative leg only hours after the incision.
As part of the recovery process and the transition home, specific medical equipment needs to be discussed which includes a raised toilet seat. Some patients might say that they will survive at home without one because the toilet at home is quite mountainous.
Others may say that they are plenty short in stature and do not require one. However, despite the excuses, a raised toilet seat is highly recommended for all patients post-total hip replacement and here’s why:
- Weak Muscles After Surgery:
The surgeon is replacing the largest joint of the body which is surrounded by the largest muscles of the body. Hence, there will be some trauma to muscle tissues in the hips causing weakness.
Muscles that are affected include those that are used in performing a simple sit-to-stand up transfer as well as a slow, stand-to-sit transfer. Weaker muscles in the legs make a patient more prone to loss of balance and falls. A raised toilet seat minimizes the risk and the muscle strength required to get up and down from a toilet.
- Hip Precaution Maintenance:
For some hip replacements, especially the posterior incision, doctors expect the patient to maintain a 90 degree hip flexion precaution. This means no bending past 90 degrees at the hips as seen when someone is bending down to retrieve and item from the floor.
Patients who transfer from a lower toilet to stand up have to lean forward which automatically breaks the 90 degree hip flexion rule. A raised toilet seat opens the hip angle up by lowering the knees downward during the transfer.
- Reducing Risk for Revision:
Patients attempting movements that break hip precautions greatly increase the risk of popping the new hip out of joint. Loosening or damaging the operative hip can only be fixed with additional surgery, which comes with risk for additional complications (i.e. infection, scarring, tissue damage, etc.).
By using a raised toilet seat, the risk for revision drops dramatically.
How Long Should the Raised Toilet Seat Be Used Post-operatively?
Simply put, a raised toilet seat should be used as long as the surgeon recommends. Typically, a patient should continue to use the raised toilet seat for as long as they are expected to maintain their total hip precautions which can range from 3 to 6 weeks.
How High Should a Raised Toilet Seat Be For a Post-Operative Hip Replacement?
Not all raised toilet seat heights will universally fit every patient because there are two factors to consider: the height of the raised toilet seat and the height of the person.
A traditional raised toilet seat is slightly over 3 inches thick. Patients can shop for available raised toilet seats that are even higher, especially if they are considerably taller than others.
In order to best judge the height of the raised toilet seat that should be used at home, patients can consult with therapy staff at the hospital prior to going home about height suggestions as well as practicing on demo seats if available.
Why Having A Raised Toilet Seat Protects Your Surgical Hip.
Depending on the type of hip replacement surgery, a raised toilet seat may be recommended by your surgeon, physician, physical, or occupational therapist. Hip replacement surgeries are generally performed with an incision made along the outside of the sitting muscles.
This is known as a ‘posterior’ entry, and will require Posterior Hip Precautions; a short list of specific movements one should avoid to protect the incision site. The primary restriction is to avoid bending over the hip, which occurs by sitting in a low chair or surface.
How To Choose a Raised Toilet Seat.
There are many makes and models of raised toilet seats on the market, so choosing one should be based on individual needs:
Raised Toilet Seat with Arm-Rests:
Some raised toilet seats come without attachable armrests which is very suitable for some patients. Armrests should be considered if there is no other stationery object (counter, grab bar) to push off of during a transfer.
Clamps Versus No Clamps:
A traditional raised toilet seat should attach directly to the toilet bowl via clamp. Other raised toilet seats have elevated lips that fit within the shape of the toilet bowl without a clamp. If the patient has a history of falls or unsteady balance, then a clamp feature would be best to ensure that the raised toilet seat won’t shift during a transfer.
A 3-in-1 commode can be pushed over a toilet rather than being clamped to the bowl. Some commodes come with wheels (which should have brakes) while others have rubber feet.
A 3-in-1 commode is a great option for patients who have severely limited mobility before and after the replacement. 3-in-1 commodes can be wheeled to and from the toilet as well as walk-in showers, beds, and wheelchairs to reduce the need for transfers.
If the patient opts out of a raised toilet seat and chooses to use a bedside commode, it is usually because there are other factors limiting mobility besides the hip replacement.
A bedside commode houses a bucket that acts as the toilet so that the patient only has to perform one two pivot transfers to and from bed. For post-op hip replacements, the bedside commode should be height-adjustable in order to help better maintain the 90 degree hip flexion rule.
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Pain and Discomfort Are Common After Surgery.
Soreness around the surgical site can be expected for a period of weeks to months. During this time the body experiences tender aches and moves in a slow, cautious manner.
Recall that childhood memory of when you fell off your bicycle, landed on your hip, and ‘walked it off.’ Low chairs and toilets can be difficult to get on and off, especially when they press on the incision site.
Many consider regular toilets to be too low in general. If you need to go to the restroom frequently, the environment can become hazardous and can create the potential for a fall.
Safety After Having Hip Surgery is Very Important.
Fortunately, a raised toilet frame can be placed close to the bed. While many of us are familiar with the layout of our homes, even in the dark, it is important to keep in mind that after hip replacement surgery, we may not navigate as well during the recovery phase.
In addition, your doctor might prescribe pain medication, which should be taken exactly as it is written.
Although the prescription eases the amount of pain we experience, it will also affect the way we move and think, making it harder to maintain balance.
Avoid Dislocating Your Surgically Repaired Hip And Use Proper Transfer Techniques When Getting Off and On A Raised Toilet Seat.
There are a few tips that patients should be aware of when transferring off and on the raised toilet seat to minimize fall risk and hip displacement:
Be Intentional and Slow:
Sometimes this can be very hard to do, especially if nature is not only calling but screaming. Do not rush the transfer. Be very purposeful and intentional with your steps and transfers.
Mind Where the Clothes Fall:
The raised toilet seat helps maintain the 90 degree hip flexion rule; however, some patients are quick to forget the rule once they lean forward to grab their pants off of the floor.
Remember to use a reacher stick or a dressing stick to retrieve your clothes or keep your pants or lower dressings close to your knees to prevent excessive bending.
In most cases, it is alright to shimmy forward on the seat. Use the armrests or other stationery grab options to scoot forward to the edge of the seat. This lowers the knees even more making it less difficult to pull to a stand.
Properly Using the Walker:
Patients should completely avoid leaning on the walker for support in order to sit or to stand. Use arm rests, grab bars, or sturdy counter edges for support only.
A raised toilet seat with access to a handrail is a cornerstone of safety and independence following hip replacement surgery. Be smart, and ask for someone to help you if needed. In terms of technique, remember to back up until you feel the toilet seat/frame with your legs, and reach back for the handrail before sitting down.
To get up, push from the rail, lean up and over the walker, and stand tall. Think of it like a dance: You put your right foot back, your put your left foot back, you grab a sturdy rail, then you gently go from sit to stand.
That’s what it’s all about!
Read More Articles on Hip Replacement Surgery:
- Long Term Precautions After Hip Replacement Surgery: Your Restrictions and Limitations While at Home.
- Adaptive Equipment Needed After Hip Replacement Surgery For Seniors.
- What Is The Typical Hip Surgery Recovery Time in The Elderly – Hip Precautions And What You Should Be Doing Post-Operatively at Home.
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