As joint replacement surgery has advanced, hospital stays have declined from nearly a week to two or three nights for many patients. A program at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center called Fast Track now prepares some patients to recover at home after only a 24-hour hospital stay.
Ted France, of Brimfield Massachusetts, was one of those patients. “It made sense to me,” France says. “I wanted to get up and move as quickly as possible.”
A New Hip For an Athlete
At age 47, France wasn’t a typical candidate for hip replacement surgery. However, the shooting pain in his legs that started seven years prior had only progressed. He played football in college and was now a physical education professor—but his leg pain made it impossible to stand up to teach.
When an MRI confirmed that France needed a new hip, he saw it as a positive step. “I felt like I was too young to not be active,” he says. “The surgery was something I needed to do to get back to being physically active.”
With his excellent health and strength, the doctors and physical therapists determined France could handle walking shortly after his surgery. He also had a supportive home environment, and this combination made him an ideal candidate for a Fast Track hip replacement.
How Fast Track Works
According to Lawrence Specht, MD, director of Adult Reconstruction at Lahey, many patients can recuperate just as well at home as in the hospital.
“It puts them on the road to their new life that much sooner, in a comfortable, familiar environment,” Dr. Specht says.
Once a patient is cleared for Fast Track, he or she attends a series of workshops that detail what will happen with the surgery and the accelerated recovery plan. For France, these workshops were very helpful. “The class was really explicit,” he says. “They told you what to expect and what you’re going to experience.”
The hospital staff at Lahey was also an important factor in France’s success. “Everyone gets in this mindset, they’re cheering you on,” he says. “I really pushed to get up and walk and use the crutches. Psychologically, everyone is really pushing for you.”
A Successful Program
Dr. Specht points out that patient safety is always the top priority, and the Fast Track program can be adapted at any time to accommodate the patient’s needs. That’s an important element in the program’s success at achieving the goals of joint replacement surgery—to relieve pain, restore function and improve the patient’s quality of life.
“If this can be accomplished without an extended hospital stay, then we are supporting these goals efficiently and with enthusiasm,” Dr. Specht says.
France is now back to his active lifestyle, which includes leading canoe trips and educating future physical education teachers. He strongly supports Lahey’s Fast Track joint replacement program.
“It was a positive experience,” he says. “I’d do it again.”
*The content of this website is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. Please consult a physician regarding your specific medical condition, diagnosis and/or treatment.