How to Prepare for Better Mobility at Home after Surgery

Better mobility after surgery:

Your room-by-room plan.


When you’re recovering from surgery, nothing feels better than the comforts of home. But before you head to the OR, you’ll need to make some adjustments at your place to make life easier as you heal. With the right mobility aids in every room, you can keep what you need within reach, and get around your home more safely. We’ve mapped out a room-by-room plan to make it simple, so after surgery, you can come home and take it easy.

The living room: Relax and recover.

Since you’ll likely spend a lot of time here — watching TV, solving crossword puzzles and relaxing on the couch, you’ll want to make sure it’s set up to support your recovery.

Be sure to clear your walking path so you can safely and comfortably navigate through the room.1 Secure rug corners, remove animal and baby toys, stray clothing, bags or anything else that could be a tripping hazard.1

You’ll also want to invest in a quality armchair that offers firm yet comfortable support. Bonus points for an ottoman or recliner to elevate your legs.1 If you’ve chosen more modern furniture with a low profile, you might want to adapt the seat height to make it easier to get in and out of it.1

Once you’ve cleared the way, it’s essential to keep the right support at your fingertips so you can move around independently.

  • Stand or stroll. Go at your own pace, wherever you please, with a walker that helps you step, stand or sit with assistance.
  • Step softly. Work your way up to walking on your own with a supportive cane.
  • Everything within reach. Don’t risk an injury as you recover. Special hip kits allow you to reach for the remote, or anything just out of range, without bending at the hip.
  • Support system. Keep your weight off an injured leg with sturdy aluminum crutches that bear up to 300 lbs.

The bathroom: Get clean with confidence.

When you’re discharged from the hospital or surgery center, you’ll receive instructions about when it’s OK to shower or bathe after surgery. Usually, you need to wait 24-48 hours. A shower is your best bet because the wound won’t soak in the water, which could cause it to reopen or become infected.But first, you’ll need to adapt your bathroom to be post-surgery friendly.

  • Hold strong. Install grab bars in the shower for extra balance and stability. Non-permanent suction styles like these make setup easy.
  • Get a grip. You’ll also want to add a set of toilet safety rails to hold when going from sitting to standing, and vice versa. Many are pressured fit to the wall.
  • Sit and suds. A bath chair provides the best of both worlds: seated stability in the bath and the efficiency of getting clean in the shower. It’s a no-slip way to relax.
  • Solid footing. Here’s an easy, affordable fix. Use a textured bath mat in the shower to help protect against slips with extra stability. Some styles even feature built-in foot massagers to smooth rough skin.

The bedroom: Get a good night’s sleep.

After surgery, rest is critical to your recovery.3 But it’s not always easy to get the z’s you need. Post-surgery insomnia is common, as the result of medication and just the general trauma your body has experienced.3 All the more reason to make your bedroom as comfortable as possible so you can help your body heal more quickly.

  • Get the low down. Have a bed that’s low enough so that your feet touch the floor when you sit at the edge. If you can, set up your bed on the first floor to avoid climbing stairs.
  • Turn in easier. Use a bed assist bar to get in and out of bed with less strain. They provide a soft grip and straps for added safety — and a pocket for storing personal items so you don’t need to get up for them.
  • Get dressed. When you wake up feeling refreshed, it can feel good to shower and get dressed, rather than staying in the same pajamas all day. A dressing stick can help extend your range of motion to make it easier to put on a jacket, pull up your pants or remove your socks.

With a little pre-op prep to get your home ready, you’ll set yourself up for a smoother recovery. The right aids can make all the difference in keeping you safe and comfortable while you’re living with limited mobility.

REFERENCES. 1. 5 tips to prepare for home life after joint replacement or spine surgery, Anne Arundel Medical Group: 2. Closed surgical wound care, U.S. National Library of Medicine: 3. Improving inpatient environments to support patient sleep, International Journal for Quality in Health Care: All sources accessed November 5, 2019.