More than 300,000 hip replacement surgeries are performed each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). People who need hip replacement surgery typically have severe joint damage from osteoarthritis or other types of arthritis. The patients have either failed to respond to conservative treatment or the disease has progressed to the point that conservative treatment is no longer adequate.
A total hip replacement prosthesis is surgically implanted to replace the damaged hip joint. A traditional hip prosthesis has three parts: a plastic cup that replaces the hip socket or acetabulum, a metal ball that replaces the femoral head, and a metal stem that is placed in the shaft of the femur.
To prevent dislocation of the hip prosthesis after surgery, patients must follow certain precautions. Basically, certain movements are restricted, such as crossing your legs or bending too far forward (i.e., beyond 90 degrees). A physical therapist and/or an occupational therapist will teach you about hip precautions. They will also make recommendations for continuing with usual activities while being mindful of the necessary precautions.
There are assistive devices that will help you tremendously during the time that you must follow hip precautions. One such assistive device is a raised toilet seat -- a 2 to 5 inch plastic seat that allows you to sit higher on the toilet, making it easier to sit down and get up. Another necessary item is a hip kit. When I had my first hip replacement in 1980, the items now found in a hip kit were sold to me individually. Since then, medical supply stores have bundled the items together in a "hip kit."
What's in a Hip Kit?
There usually are six items in a hip kit: sock aid, dressing stick, reacher, shoe horn, long-handled bath sponge, and elastic shoelaces. Some hip kits may not contain all six items, perhaps to keep the cost down. When purchasing a hip kit, look carefully at what it contains.
A sock aid is designed to help you put on your socks without bending over to reach your feet. The sock aid has two main parts -- a flexible or semi-flexible part that the sock slips over and two long handles so you can drop the sock part to the floor, slide your foot into the sock opening, and pull onto your foot.
A dressing stick is a lightweight, thin rod with hooks at each end. The stick is about 27 inches long to help you get dressed without bending or reaching for your clothes. The hook at one end helps you pull up pants or pick clothes up from the floor. The opposite end has a smaller hook that can be used to pull up zippers.
A reacher is an assistive device, commonly available in lengths ranging from 24 to 32 inches, that allows the person using it to reach or pick up objects that otherwise would be difficult to grasp without bending or extending the body. One end of the reacher is usually a pistol-style handle and the other end is a claw that is triggered to latch onto an object.
The shoe horn found in a hip kit is an extended version of a normal shoe horn. They can range from 18 to 32 inches. The extended length allows a person to slip on shoes without bending over.
A long-handled bath sponge is an assistive device that allows a person who is showering to reach their feet, back, or other body parts without over-extending or bending. The long handle is usually plastic and approximately 2 feet in length with a bath sponge attached.
Elastic shoelaces are a great solution for people who want to continue wearing their tie shoes but are limited in their ability to bend down to tie them. The elastic shoelaces are stretchable, allowing you to wear the tie shoes as if they were slip-on style shoes. The shoes stay tied and you slip the shoes on and off.
Inpatient Surgery. FastStats. National Center for Health Statistics. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. May 16, 2012.