Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of physical disability that Americans face, leading to destruction of the joints of the body. The primary joint affected is the knee, and the leading treatment is total knee replacement. The incidence of total knee replacement surgery is rising–and will continue to rise–as a treatment for knee pain resulting from osteoarthritis (Mizner et al., 2005). Various psychological factors have been proven to influence a person’s well-being in general and, more specifically, with recovery from illness or surgery (Taylor, 2011). Pre- surgical psychological screenings are an important factor in determining how the patient will recover from surgery (Dooley, 2013).
This study will analyze four different psychological factors and their potential influences on the recovery time from total knee replacement surgery. The psychological factors include personality, dispositional optimism, coping methods, and social support. These factors were chosen because they play an important role in health and illness and are important factors in recovery from surgery (Taylor, 2011). Each of the four psychological factors will be measured prior to the patient’s knee replacement surgery through the administration of psychological tests designed to quantify the patient for each psychological variable. A separate test will be given for each of the four factors. The participants will undergo the standard knee replacement surgery and then complete the customary physical therapy treatment for knee replacement. Physical therapy is essential after knee replacement to rehabilitate the patient and make their replaced knee functional. Physical therapists direct and assist the patients on their road to recovery to achieve certain standardized goals in range of motion, pain levels, swelling, and strength of the knee. Patients are discharged from physical therapy by the physical therapist when their knee reaches the aforementioned goals. Recovery time in the study is classified as the number of days from surgery to discharge from physical therapy, which will be analyzed based on the participant’s psychological scores for each factor.
This study tests the hypothesis that participants with the positive aspects of each of the four psychological factors will have faster recovery rates from total knee replacement surgery. The main idea is that positive
psychological factors act as external and internal supporters in the recovery from the stressful surgery. On the opposite end of each of the factors, the negative aspects will deter a speedy and successful recovery due to lack of supporters and the presence of detrimental external or internal factors (Taylor, 2011). Significant results from this experiment that prove or disprove the hypothesis will greatly affect the view of psychology in relation to recovery from knee replacement surgery. Physical therapists can be trained to recognize various positive or negative psychological factors and incorporate their knowledge in the treatment of the patient. Physical therapy will become more personalized and specialized to each patient rather than a generalized treatment plan intended to rehabilitate all kinds of people.
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