Doctors Encourage Patients to Move for Speedier Recovery

(ABC)– When Marni Halasa, a professional ice skater and coach in New York, underwent hip replacement surgery at age 49, she was surprised that just three hours after her surgery, her doctors had her up and moving.

Within 24 hours of her surgery, Halasa said, she was back home at her apartment.

“I was taking these little baby steps and then I was walking up stairs and they said, ‘It’s time for you to go home,’” Halasa told ABC News.

Halasa is an example of the latest recovery strategy for people with surgeries like hip replacements and knee replacements to get moving.

“In the past, there was more bed rest prescribed to make sure that patients didn’t damage anything related to surgery,” said Sharlynn Tuohy, the senior director of Acute Care Rehab Services at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.

“What we’ve come to learn is that patients don’t do as well when they’re on bed rest,” she said. “So being horizontal is not a good position for us to be in.”

Halasa said getting quickly on her feet again also gave her a psychological boost in her recovery process.

“It definitely gave me more confidence to be moving really quickly,” she said. “That in itself sort of allays any fears that, you know, I’m not going to recover soon.”

Good Morning America” co-anchor Lara Spencer had a similar experience when she underwent a hip replacement surgery at The Hospital for Special Surgery in August.

Spencer said she was walking 24 hours after having her right hip replaced and began physical therapy just days later.

Tuohy of the Hospital for Special Surgery said the benefits of moving soon after surgery are multiple.

“It improves your cardiopulmonary system. It improves your musculoskeletal system functioning. It addresses your immune system,” she said. “So things like blood clots orpneumonia or atrophy for your muscles are all targeted with mobility as an intervention.”

Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News’ chief women’s health correspondent, said that how quickly and how often a patient moves post-surgery depends on their preoperative condition.

The idea that moving helps recovery is the “mantra now for almost all of surgery in general,” Ashton added.

“People recover faster if they’re out of bed moving sooner,” she said, “rather than later.”

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