Rehabilitation after surgery
A surgical procedure may often be the primary option to remedy an illness or injury. Yet despite the healing these measures are designed to promote, in most instances people will still need specialist post-operative care to put them on the road to recovery. This period of rehabilitation after surgery can be usefully conceptualised as a three-phase process:
1) An ‘early recovery’ phase
2) Rebuilding strength and functional capacities
3) Functional Restoration
Healing begins immediately the surgeon’s work is done. But in this first phase the patient is normally immobilised to prioritise and facilitate the basic elements of the healing process. This is to reduce any swelling and pain in the aftermath of the surgical procedure.
The therapies called upon here will support these aims. Typically, there will be pain relief to make the body feel more comfortable and relaxed, usually given in conjunction with other medication or therapy to reduce swelling. As soon as practicable, some gentle manual therapy will focus on restoring a basic range of movement. And soon further mobility will be encouraged – perhaps closely supported early walking, which then naturally leads on to increased mobility using crutches, walkers or canes.
Though a therapist will also be looking to develop early muscle function, nothing will be allowed to interrupt the healing process.
Rebuilding strength and capacity
When appropriate, therapy will begin to focus on building strength, control of balance, and the restoration of the postures and bodily movements required to support normal functions. Here, the therapies used will become a little more demanding, given that the eventual aim is to restore an optimum range of joint movement. And where necessary, further soft tissue treatments will continue to recover full mobility.
The ultimate goal of post-operative rehabilitation is to restore each person to their pre-surgery level of function. So individual patient goals are discussed and progressive exercises designed to meet those defined aims. Work to maximise strength and capacities will continue, but at this stage the focus is on fully restoring function to meet the anticipated demands of the patient’s post-treatment lifestyle.
Further benefits of targeted therapy
Beyond these basic aims, a programme of post-operative rehabilitation also guarantees optimal healing. This includes features such as minimising scar tissue, retraining vital muscle function and restoring proper joint mobility. In addition, a personalised therapy plan ensures a fast recovery – which, of course, also means a shorter spell in hospital. And should rehabilitation involve any technological device or solution, this can also be incorporated within any recovery programme to maximise the benefits the patient can expect.