Postoperative Care: A Guide For Healthcare Professionals
The term “postoperative” refers to any period after surgery when patients are still recovering from their operation and may require additional care. There are many different types of postoperative care, which include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and language pathology (SLP), nutrition, wound healing/healing support, pain management and much more. Each type of postoperative care requires its own set of skills and expertise.
Physiotherapy is the most common form of postoperative care. Physical therapists have special training in treating musculoskeletal conditions such as back injuries, sports injuries, arthritis and other related problems. They use exercises to strengthen muscles and tendons, improve range of motion and increase flexibility. They also work with patients to prevent further injury or re-injury through rehabilitation techniques. Physical therapists are often referred to as physical therapist (PT) because they specialize in working with the body’s musculoskeletal system.
PTs must have extensive medical degrees and years of experience before becoming certified.
Occupational therapy is another form of postoperative care. Occupational therapists focus on helping patients regain function in their daily lives, including returning to work, learning new tasks and activities, improving self-care skills and increasing independence. For instance, a person who has had hand surgery would benefit from occupational therapy because they can learn ways to improve function with the non-injured hand. An occupational therapist can also show family members and loved ones how to help the patient complete tasks independently.
Speech and Language Pathology
Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are another type of specialist that provides important postoperative care. These professionals help patients who have experienced a stroke or other trauma to the brain, head or neck area. For instance, a patient who has recently had surgery on his neck to remove a tumor can benefit from speech and language pathology because it focuses on swallowing and breathing problems caused by the surgery.
An SLP can also help people who have experienced a traumatic brain injury or a stroke regain their speech and/or language. These patients often require a great deal of therapy to help them recover, but it can be very rewarding when they make a full recovery. SLPs have extensive training in areas such as swallowing and breathing therapies, so they know exactly how to help patients with these conditions.
In some cases, postoperative care may involve wound-healing techniques. These techniques are most commonly used in plastic surgery when skin needs to be stitched back together or in reconstructive surgery. These techniques include debriding, in which dead tissue is cut away to allow new tissue to grow and accelerate healing time. Dressings can also be used to help wounds heal faster by removing excess fluid and protecting against infection.
Pain Management Techniques
Some patients undergoing surgery experience severe pain after their operation. This pain can be caused by a number of different factors, such as damaged nerves or internal bleeding. Some patients have a higher pain threshold than others and require more or less pain medication.
Regardless of the amount of pain a patient experiences, most surgeons try to minimize the amount of pain medication they prescribe. This is because surgeries can take hours or even days to complete, and patients are generally prescribed pain medication on a around-the-clock schedule. As a result, patients can become addicted to pain medication and have to continue taking it long after their surgical wound has healed.
As a result, many surgeons prefer to use local anesthetics rather than pain medication during surgery and prescribe pain medication that is less likely to cause addiction or behavioral issues. These are often narcotic painkillers such as morphine or oxycodone. Acetaminophen, such as Tylenol, can also be used in low doses to ease mild pain. Muscle relaxants can also be used to prevent pain caused by build-up of lactic acid in muscles.
Procedures such as spinal anesthesia, in which the patient is put to sleep before beginning the surgery, can also help to minimize pain during and after surgery. For patients who want to remain awake during their procedure, nerve block anesthesia can be used. This anesthetic involves injecting medication near the area of the body where nerves reside to minimize pain and relax muscles.
No matter why a patient needs postoperative care, it is important that he stick to the treatment plan provided by his physician or surgeon. Failure to do so can slow the healing process and, in some cases, cause complications or a relapse. By sticking with his aftercare instructions, a patient can help ensure a speedy and successful recovery.
Sources & references used in this article:
Sleep in the surgical intensive care unit: continuous polygraphic recording of sleep in nine patients receiving postoperative care. by J Aurell, D Elmqvist – Br Med J (Clin Res Ed), 1985 – bmj.com
Monitoring of respiratory rate in postoperative care using a new photoplethysmographic technique by L Nilsson, A Johansson, S Kalman – Journal of clinical monitoring and …, 2000 – Springer
Guidelines for postoperative care in gynecologic/oncology surgery: Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS®) Society recommendations—Part II by G Nelson, AD Altman, A Nick, LA Meyer… – Gynecologic …, 2016 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) versus conventional postoperative care in colorectal surgery by PHE Teeuwen, RP Bleichrodt, C Strik… – Journal of …, 2010 – Springer
Sequential system failure after rupture of abdominal aortic aneurysms: an unsolved problem in postoperative care. by NL Tilney, GL Bailey, AP Morgan – Annals of Surgery, 1973 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Results of a standardized technique and postoperative care plan for laparoscopic sigmoid colectomy by AJ Senagore, HJ Duepree, CP Delaney… – Diseases of the colon & …, 2003 – Springer
“Total” pancreatectomy in the rat: operation, effects, and postoperative care by RO SCOW – Endocrinology, 1957 – academic.oup.com
Advances in postoperative care following functional endoscopic sinus surgery. by FA Kuhn, MJ Citardi – Otolaryngologic Clinics of North America, 1997 – europepmc.org
… , randomized, controlled trial between a pathway of controlled rehabilitation with early ambulation and diet and traditional postoperative care after laparotomy and … by CP Delaney, M Zutshi, AJ Senagore, FH Remzi… – Diseases of the Colon & …, 2003 – Springer