Attitude and Recovery from Joint Replacement Surgery
Attitudes and Recovery From Joint Replacement Surgery
You can't wish yourself well after joint replacement surgery, but you may be able to think yourself better. That's the message of numerous studies that have looked at the link between physical health and thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs.
One study (Journal of Counseling Psychology, 2001) by researchers at the University of Memphis included 105 people who underwent replacement or reconstructive surgery of the hip or knee. The researchers found that people's beliefs in their own ability to do the things necessary for recovery predicted how well they actually did in rehabilitation. Specifically, those with more confidence in their ability to achieve their goals tended to be more successful in rehabilitation than those with weaker beliefs in their own ability to make a positive difference.
Rehabilitation After Joint Replacement Surgery
Rehabilitation after joint replacement surgery is always a gradual process. "However, if you keep at it and believe in yourself, your prospects for success tend to be better," says study coauthor Richard Lightsey, Ph.D. One way to strengthen your belief in your self-efficacy is by breaking down big goals into smaller steps. As you accomplish each step, you gain a feeling of mastery, which helps motivate you to keep moving forward.
Lightsey says another helpful strategy is to chart your progress regularly, so you have immediate feedback on your small successes. For example, you might record how far you walk each day in a notebook. You might also want to videotape your exercise sessions, which provide you with visual evidence of the improvements you're making.
Another useful tool is vicarious learning or seeing other people successfully perform the kinds of tasks you're trying to master. Lightsey says this works best when the role model is similar to you. For example, you might choose a role model who is around your age and who has had the same kind of joint replacement surgery.
Singing your own praises after joint replacement surgery
It's always nice to get a pat on the back from someone else, but you can also reward yourself for your achievements. Tell yourself "good job," and give yourself occasional treats for meeting small goals. For example, you might reward yourself by watching your favorite movie, or spending an afternoon with friends.
A final technique for building self-efficacy is with affirmations. These are short statements you repeat regularly to yourself as a way of reaffirming your value and abilities. The key to using affirmations successfully is to pick statements that are:
- Short, simple, and to the point
- Believably positive
- Expressed in the present tense
Here are some examples of affirmations that you can use as a starting point for developing statements that are particularly meaningful to you:
- I am responsible for my life.
- I am up to this challenge.
- I can handle this setback.
- I can accept myself as I am.
By using these tools you can help maintain a positive attitude and strong self-efficacy throughout the demanding rehabilitation period after joint replacement surgery. They will help you chart your successes and motivate you to keep working.