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Prevention is key.

In a recent CBC article titled, “Wait times for hip and knee replacement grow in Canada”, Dr. Gollish (orthopedic surgeon at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre) states the increased demand for these replacements comes from the demographic shift in the Canadian population, to patients over 65 years of age. The article states that “Across the country, 76 per cent of patients received a hip replacement in 2017 within the recommended six-month wait time, down from 81 per cent in 2015. For knee replacements, 69 per cent of patients had the procedure within the benchmark in 2017, compared to 82 per cent in 2015.”

Photo from “Wait times for hip and knee replacement grow in Canada” CBC News.

Wait times for hip and knee replacement are an issue in the Canadian Health System, and likely wait times will continue to lengthen unless the federal government invests some money into increasing the number of surgeries preformed. Or… what if we took a preventative stand point? What if physiotherapists worked with patients to maintain joint integrity, stability, and muscle strength, to perhaps allowing joints to maintain their integrity for longer, and a decreased need for a replacement. What if a preventive strategy could lessen the wait times for a reactive surgery? I am not saying physiotherapy can replace a joint replacement, as there are many circumstances where the only option for decreased pain, increased mobility, and function is a replacement. But why can’t physiotherapy be used to bridge the gap, have less people waiting in pain, and take some of the pressure of our health care system?

OHIP physiotherapy services were drastically cut in 2012, meaning the majority of physiotherapy services are obtained in the private sector. Educating patients about how physiotherapy can prevent degeneration, and promote functionality, could lead to more healthy patients, and a reduced load on the public system.

Stay tuned for our next blog, where we will discuss how exactly physiotherapy can help prevent joint degeneration, prepare you for a joint replacement, and help with rehabilitating patients post surgery.

To read the full article on CBC, click here.

-Charlotte Anderson
Physiotherapist, ALPHA Health Services