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Want to better understand how a hip replacement works?

I recently stumbled upon an NPR article that got me laughing. Apparently, researchers noticed that a lot of medical explanations are provided to patients and potential patients at a reading level that is not very helpful. To get a better understanding of what might be more effective, they enlisted the help of children around the age of 9. They asked the children to write up patient guides to assist individuals preparing for a hip replacement surgery. According to the article, the children got a brief lesson on what a hip surgery is, and then were tasked with writing and illustrating a leaflet about the procedure. The kids focused on four points surrounding the surgery: indications for surgery, complications of surgery, before the procedure, and the procedure itself.

“Your hip is old and rotten,” one child wrote.

“It is past its sell-by date,” said another.

“Your hip bone is part of your legs,” said one. “Without your hip bone you will flop around.”

The study brought forth some silly answers (for example, I typically don’t warn patients that their blood might turn black!), but it also brought to light some issues with the current state of medical explanations. Although no one is suggesting that children replace doctors or even take jobs writing medical pamphlets, the study findings were clear: how we explain and discuss medical procedures matters, both for patients and doctors.

This particular research took place in the United Kingdom, but it resonates here in New York, too. I spend a lot of time researching and advancing joint replacement surgeries. In fact, I would be the first to tell you that I often get very excited about changes in the field. At times, my conversation can be laced with medical jargon and even be boring to anyone who is not in the same field as I am.

Still, one of my top goals is to make sure that all of my patients completely understand and feel comfortable asking me any questions they may have about hip and knee replacements. This includes the steps they need to take leading up to a procedure, the options they have for treatment, the healing process and what it entails, and the results that they can expect to have when all is said and done. I find that this is a great way to keep patients feeling comfortable in the days leading up to surgery, and it also helps them better understand that the procedure should not be taken lightly and comes with the expectation of physical therapy.

If you have any questions or concerns about joint replacement surgery, please don’t hesitate to reach out or ask for additional information. I’m happy to assist you in anyway that I can. After all, you deserve joints that make you able to get back to the activities you love, and you certainly deserve to understand what that could mean for your life.

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