Family importance during orthopedic surgery
by: M. Whelen
Orthopedic surgery can be extremely difficult for both patients and their families. Surgery can be complicated and lengthy, and the pre- and post-operative instructions given to patients can be cumbersome and difficult to follow. Recovery time varies depending on the location and extent of the injury, as well as the type of surgery performed, and usually requires some degree of rehabilitation or physical therapy. For major orthopedic surgeries, this rehabilitation can last for months. For such reasons, family involvement in the entire process (both pre- and post-surgery) is extremely important to ensure that patients fully understand all that is required to help ensure a successful surgery, and to provide the emotional and physical support needed to facilitate a successful recovery.
Family members must be educated about their loved one’s condition, the type of surgery performed, and recovery requirements in order for them to adequately assist their loved one through the orthopedic surgical process. Most patients will spend the majority of their recovery time in the comfort of their own home, as this tends to shorten the length of recovery time (compared to recovery in the hospital). As such, family members must understand the post-operative procedures and care instructions, as patients will not be able to care for themselves initially. Families must also assume the role of caregiver during this time, providing not only emotional support to their loved ones, but also tending to their financial and domestic matters while the patient recovers.
Patients who undergo significant surgery and who experience long periods of immobilization following surgery may develop feelings of helplessness, or feel as if they are becoming a burden to their families. These feelings can bring with them depression, therefore family involvement is crucial to not only provide encouragement to the patient, but to also watch for any undesirable changes in their loved one’s mood or thoughts.
Family members themselves can also experience burnout or inconvenience from assisting their loved ones during the recovery process, especially if the recovering patients is unable to drive or perform normal tasks of daily living for some time. With the numerous doctors visits and multiple physical therapy appointments, family members may have to leave jobs (or reduce their hours worked), incurring their own financial insecurity and stress. It is important for families to be cognizant of this possibility. Rotating responsibilities among family members, or enlisting the help of friends or other relatives so that one primary individual does not experience burnout while caring for the recovering loved one, are both good strategies to avoid this potential pitfall.
Piedmont Medical Orthopedics Rock Hill is a full service orthopedic facility and a Blue Distinction Center for Spine Surgery.
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