Boot camp before joint replacement

Local News

Before patients get a new knee or hip, should they have to go to boot camp? It’s a two-hour training program that teaches them what to expect before, during, and after surgery, and how they can make the process easier. It has reduced hospital stays and improved patient outcomes.

Dennis Dairman has a five-month-old hip, his second hip replacement. He says his hip problems date back to the 60’s, when he played forward and guard for Arizona state’s Sun Devils. This time, he went to joint boot camp before surgery.

Dairman shared, “When I get up and start to walk I can do it better. And she explained what exercises to do, and I’ve done them about 1,000 times now.”

“She” is Joan Bolzan, who’s had hundreds of patients in her joint boot camps over the years.

Before patients get joints replaced, they have to take the two-hour training program. They learn about pain management, get an orientation of their upcoming surgery and start learning their rehab exercises.

Joan Bolzan, RN, MSL, formerly with Mercy Gilbert Medical Center says, “It’s 101. The more the patient knows, the better they do. It decreases their fear, their anxiety. It helps the outcomes on the back end when they are done with surgery.”

Joan says in the five years since joint boot camp began, average hospital stays have dropped from three days to two. Dennis believes boot camp is helping him get better faster. 

“It’s slower than I want, but it’s getting better. Just takes a long time when you’re 76-years old,” Dairman said.

His doctor told him it might be a year before he can walk unassisted, but he plans to ditch the walker in a few weeks. He and Sparky want back in the game! 

Mercy Gilbert’s joint boot camp also educates family members with its coaches program. Boot camp has been so well-received and so successful, there are plans to use a similar program before spine and bariatric surgeries.

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