Published on July 11, 2018

Why is there half a car inside Falmouth Hospital?

Why is there half a car inside Falmouth Hospital?

Half of a full-sized car is not what you expect to find on a patient floor of a hospital. But the new and innovative Home Confidence Room on the third floor at Falmouth Hospital has just that. The half-car, along with other pieces of equipment, give joint replacement surgery patients the opportunity to practice basic everyday activities before they are discharged home.

“The room was created to improve patient confidence in doing the functional activities that they will be expected to do at home and in the community,” said Paula Smith, DPT, director of Rehabilitation, Sleep Lab and EEG Services at Falmouth Hospital.

These include a variety of situations, from opening an oven door, to getting a jar or can out of the cabinet to climbing stairs to getting in and out of a car.

“The half-car allows the patient to be the passenger, open the car door, safely transfer into the car, put on the seat belt, lock the door – all while allowing the therapist to assist,” said Smith.

Although, its concept is fairly simple and it doesn’t have fancy electronics or technology, it gives the patient the invaluable opportunity to practice activities associated with transportation, which is a very important part of discharge from the hospital and outpatient activities.

“Practicing these functional activities that are required of the patient upon discharge from our hospital is a vital part of ensuring their safety and boosting their confidence in going home,” she said.

Jane Govoni of Sandwich, who had a right total knee replacement procedure two days before practicing activities in the home confidence room, recently aced getting in and out of the half-car. She did it smoothly and without hesitation, and said she found it helpful to be able to practice tasks that her surgeon identified as important and had described in writing.

“I read the information packet that I received from Dr. Wilsterman (Robert Wilsterman, MD, Falmouth Hospital orthopedic surgeon) before my surgery,” said Govoni. “(The instructions) said to back into the seat, sit down and then put your legs in the car.”

Trying the Stairs

Govoni then tried climbing the stairs in the Home Confidence Room. One side of the stairs has a couple of four-inch steps to simulate the home environment, and the other side has six-inch commercial steps. The handrails are adjustable to accommodate the various heights of patients, according to Smith.

Beth Schofield, PT, a Falmouth Hospital physical therapist, instructed Govoni how to navigate stairs, leading with her non-surgical leg while ascending the stairs and leading with her surgical leg while going down the stairs.

For Govoni, practicing functional activities like the stairs, post-operatively before leaving the hospital, and being able to ask questions, allowed her to feel more confident in performing these same tasks at home.

Patients who have total shoulder replacement surgery also benefit from the half-car by practicing how to put on their seatbelt, which is more difficult with limited range-of-motion following this surgery, explained Smith.

Additional Equipment and Activities

The Home Confidence Room is divided into two sections and includes the following:

  • A high-low table for seated and reclined activities, exercises and treatment.
  • A wall of mirrors for patients to be able to see how they are standing when walking and doing other activities.
  • Adjustable height parallel bars used to asses gait, practice walking and education.
  • Shallow elevated cabinet shelves to practice reaching for canned and jarred foods of various shapes and weight in the kitchen and grocery stores, as well as items and clothes from wardrobes and storage compartments.
  • A low-reach simulated cabinet with a drop-down door for practicing low-reaching into home appliances such as ovens, low freezers, or dryers.
  • A custom-made half-bath tub simulator and bath transfer bench to practice getting in and out of the tub confidently.

While the Home Confidence Room is available for all post-surgical joint replacement patients, there are many factors that come into play before using the room, according to Smith.

“We make sure it is appropriate for the patient and the activities they need to practice. We also make sure they feel well enough and they are ready to participate,” she said. “If they are being discharged directly home, this is the most appropriate place for practicing these kinds of tasks.”


Featured Image: Jane Govoni of Sandwich sitting in the half-car assisted by Beth Schofield, PT.