Total Shoulder Arthroplasty – Will I need Medical Equipment?

Going through a total shoulder arthroplasty is less common than a hip or knee replacement, but it is also a procedure that is frequently performed at the surgery centers, and hospitals.

You already have been probably made aware that, some common causes that lead to shoulder arthroplasty or replacement are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, a trauma or other health conditions identified by your orthopedic doctor. If your doctor has recommended a total shoulder arthroplasty procedure, make sure he has answered all of your questions, and addressed your concerns, and also discuss this with your family.

Before your Procedure-Plan Ahead

Having a total shoulder replacement, or arthroplasty, will require, not only some office pre-op requirements, and medical clearance, but also some assistance at home during your recovery period. Please ensure you are planning to have a family, or close friend to help you during your recovery period.

Your orthopedic doctor will likely provide care instructions that include no external rotation for six weeks. This means, you are not allowed to move your operated arm for about six weeks. Therefore, you will require some assistance during those six weeks.

The good news is that you will likely have the other arm to assist you; but it is strongly recommended you have someone available at home during this period.

Having assistance at home will decrease the risks of hurting yourself by overworking your operated arm. In addition, your help at home will assist in keeping you up to date with your medications. You will be discharged with strong narcotics, therefore, you might be easily distracted or forgetful at times.

Consider to hire private duty companions if you feel you really need some help at home, but do not have anyone available to help you. There are a great deal of private duty companions agencies everywhere (not only in Florida), you just have to type “private duty companions/home aides agencies” on google, or any search engine.

Suggested Medical Equipment

Many therapists, especially the occupational therapist recommend a 3 in 1 commode for home. However, the main reason they recommend the 3:1 commode is to assist you while you shower. But perhaps your commode might not fit properly in the shower, depending on your bathroom dimensions.

The 3 in 1 commode shown below is one of many options of purchases available at Amazon.

For this reason, most of the times it is best that you purchase a shower chair. The shower chair shown below is an example and a link that perhaps you may want to purchase from Amazon.

From what I’ve seen, shower chairs are not covered by any health insurance, but they are highly recommended for patients that are going through shoulder surgery to help support them while they shower.

If your 3:1 commode does fits in the shower, then you may want to consider to either see if your insurance will cover the same, or purchase the 3:1 commode. Often times, these items will not be arranged by your medical facility staff due that it is more of a convenience, than a mandatory item when you discharge to home.

I also like the tub transfer bench, often also recommended by the therapists for home use. See below one from Amazon, at a very affordable price. These are recommended for patients that require a slower pace and more assistance during shower time.

Home Health Care

At the previous hospital I worked, and the one I’m working now, we seldomnly send our patients with home health care due that they aren’t allowed to move their arms for 6 weeks. Additionally, and there’s not much that the physical therapist or the nurse can do at home for our patients.

When we do send patients with home care, is more of a social cause (lives alone, and does not have anyone at home) than a skill need (unless there are added needs at home such as IV antibiotics).

It’s important to mention though that home care does not mean you’ll get someone 24/7 at home. Home care visits are provided to patients two or three times per week, and each visit is from 45 minutes, to 1 hour. In addition, home health care that involves mainly physical therapy does not last more than two weeks.

For the majority of the patients, and at around six weeks after they went home, usually they will have a follow up visit with their orthopedic doctor. Based on your doctor’s evaluation during your visit, he might clear you for outpatient physical therapy, and until then you may start to work on strengthening your arm.

Outpatient Physical Therapy-Ensure a Successful Transition to Independence

The beauty of going through a successful orthopedic procedure, is the results afterwards. If you have followed all of your doctor’s and medical team recommendations, chances are that soon you will feel like new again. Just make sure you do not miss therapy, that you work your best, and that is OK to have some days to rest; but be persistent, and consistent with your treatment.

Stay strong during your recovery period, take your medications, and try not to depend much on your pain pills (due to their highly addictive risks). Ask your doctor when to start decreasing the dosages of your pain medications, of course, as tolerated.

If you follow these advises, along with your medical team plan of care, you will have a safe and great transition to independence. Talk to your physician about any medications side effects, or other concerns during this period. Communication is key to your progress and successful transition.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them below, or send me an email at and I’ll be more than happy to assist you.

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