A version of this article originally appeared at NucleusHealth.com.
Albert Lopez was lifting weights in 2009 when he first noticed the pain in his hip. “It was only on leg movements with a large range of motion,” Lopez, now thirty-five, recalls. But within a year, the pain impacted the once-active weight lifter’s ability to sit, stand, and even tie his shoes.
“I often avoided something as simple as walking downstairs to make lunch because I didn’t want to deal with the pain,” he said. Lopez was suffering from a joint disease called pigmented villonodular synovitis. The disease was eating away at the cartilage in Lopez’s hip joint, so his doctor recommended a total hip joint replacement. Though the pain impacted most of his routine activities, the thought of surgery brought little relief.
“This was my first major surgery. I felt nervous about it.”
It was an animation of total hip replacement surgery, produced by Nucleus and posted on YouTube, that helped ease Lopez’s mind. He left a comment on the video stating, “Finally getting this done on my left hip in two weeks, I’m so excited!”
Lopez joins a growing number of health information seekers (a group that includes both patients and their caregivers) who are turning to educational animations and other online patient resources to understand their diseases, conditions, and treatment.
“I told my doctor about watching the video,” Lopez said. “He was very thorough and explained everything I needed to know about it. The day of surgery, I was prepared and had enough knowledge to where I was comfortable.”
Like Lopez, 72% of internet users go online for health information. These health information seekers have expressed to Nucleus that animated videos are less scary than videos of live operations. Animation is also visually interesting, but more importantly, studies show that visual information is more effective than text alone for improving patient education.
Videos can help improve patient understanding of procedures and potential complications; increase trust in medical professionals; reduce anxiety; and increase the feeling of readiness for the procedure. Improvement in these areas is associated with meeting new government-mandated requirements for patient satisfaction. Improving adherence to doctor recommendations can also help reduce preventable hospital readmissions.
Lopez recognized the impact of 3D animation right away. “It’s great that there are videos for anyone to watch to get a clear idea of what is involved in a surgical procedure. They are very informative and I’m glad I was able to gain the knowledge before the surgery.”
Now two months out of surgery, Lopez is already doing more than he was able to do just before his total hip replacement procedure. “My physical therapist gave me the ok to go back and exercise when I feel that I can do it without pain. That should be in a month or two. I’m very close to the point where I am not restricted from anything.”