Preparing for Physical Therapy Discharge: A guide to Self-management

You got through preparing for physical therapy. Now, congratulations! You made it through the ordeal. Whether you had surgery or suffered from an injury, you’re finally on your way to discharge. 

While hospital discharge is always a positive step, preparing yourself properly is essential, including creating a course of action for pain relief.

This guide’s goal is to serve as a reference to help you overcome self-management challenges after being discharged.

Have Someone There to Help You Move

If you were in an in-patient facility, schedule a friend or family member to help you get home. You’ll have a lot on your mind that day, such as filling out the necessary paperwork, packing all your belongings, and just getting home. 

For one, having someone to help you will make the process less stressful. They can also assist you with items you can’t carry yourself for safety reasons.

Have a Final Discussion With Your Physical Therapist

Though you can call, or some physical therapists will accept emails, sit down and talk with your therapist one last time.

Know if you’ll be having in-home therapy sessions or if you’ll need to continue in an outpatient program. Ask about any restrictions you have upon discharge.

Inquire about any ways you can further along the healing process at home. For instance, are there exercises you can do to enhance your results?

Acquire contact information before you leave to make it easier on you once you arrive home. While you can look it up, you don’t need the hassle later on.

Speak to Your Surgeon or Other Physician One Last Time

Besides speaking with your physical therapist, make sure you consult with your orthopedist or any other physician. Understand any medications you will take, including their purpose, dosage, and usage instructions.

If you had surgery, know what kind of wound care you’ll need to complete. Understand the frequency of bandage changes. Learn about the signs of infection and what to do if you notice those signs.

This is also a prime opportunity to learn ways to recover from your injury or surgery optimally and prevent a future injury. For example, your practitioner may recommend diet changes you can make that facilitate healing.

Be Familiar with Devices or Equipment Needed

Whether prescribed by your orthopedist, physical therapist, or another specialist, know how to use any of the equipment you’ll be going home with. You can easily hurt yourself if you’re unsure of how to use it, and if you avoid using it, you’ll hinder your recovery.

Ask them about:

  • Proper usage
  • When to use, how often, and for how long
  • Proper storage and maintenance

Have Your Home Prepared

Before you go in for surgery or start your rehabilitation program, you should have your home prepped and made more accessible to accommodate your status beforehand. However, if you haven’t completed it or feel there’s more that needs to be done, ask a friend or family member to help you prepare your home.

Ultimately, you want to have everything in order and cleaned to make your return home simple. You want to be comfortable and have little to stress over.

Have Someone at Home to Assist

When you first return home, it’s helpful to have someone at home to assist you during the first few hours or even days. You’ll then be able to learn to navigate your home in your current condition without the fear of not being able to complete your daily living tasks. This time will act as a test run, and you can then take any necessary steps to make your home accessible to you.

If you do live alone, have your phone with you at all times in case you need to call someone for help. A medical smartwatch such as the Apple Watch and its fall detection feature can also bring peace of mind in case of mishap.

Make Your Follow-Up Appointment

You’re at least partially healed at this point. Therefore, you may feel as though the worst is behind you. This isn’t necessarily the case. Making the requested follow-up appointment with your physical therapist or even primary care physician (PCP), whatever the facility recommended, allows you to get an evaluation.

You can then ensure everything is healing as it should and there’s no infection. It’s also a time to reach out and have any new questions you have answered.

Establish a Pain-Relief Plan

Chances are, whether you’re healing from an injury or recovering from surgery, you’ll have pain and need some relief. While a surgeon may prescribe an analgesic, you don’t have to take it if you don’t want. You have other options for pain relief.

Often over-the-counter prescriptions will only serve you well for a few-months at best. Once the script is up, chances are you may not be eligible for a new one. The good news? 

There’s plenty of holistic and natural remedies available for pain relief. From Acupuncture, to holistic medicine and cbd for pain relief. You could also dive into temperature therapy and mind-body pain management techniques.