A hospital stay can be a challenging experience for anyone, and it’s not uncommon for patients to experience physical and mental health setbacks. One of the most significant challenges faced by patients is regaining their strength and mobility after a hospital stay. Being bedridden for an extended period can result in muscle atrophy, loss of flexibility, and reduced range of motion. Fortunately, with proper care and attention, it’s possible to recover your strength and mobility after a hospital stay. In this blog post, we will discuss some tips for regaining strength and mobility after a hospital stay.
Tip #1: Start Planning the Specifics of Your Return Home While Still in the Hospital
One of the most important things you can do to ensure a smooth transition from the hospital to home is to plan ahead. Here are some essential things to consider:
- Your living situation: If you’re returning home after a hospital stay, you may need to make some changes to your living situation. Consider any modifications that may be necessary to make your home safer and more accessible. This could include installing grab bars in the bathroom, adding a bed on the main floor, or adding a ramp to the entrance of your home.
- Your support network: Think about the types of activities you will need help with, such as meal preparation, housekeeping, and transportation. You may need to rely on family members, friends, or hired help to assist you with these tasks.
Unfortunately, many individuals wait until they are given the “green light” to return home before they start planning. The planning process itself can take days. Therefore, patients sometimes remain in hospital for no other reason then the fact that they do not have a plan in place for retuning home. The hospital will often have a discharge team consisting of a social work or discharge nurse. These individuals can help you to plan your move back home. Patients and family members should consult this team as soon as possible, even before they are discharged. In the case of long wait times for publicly funded support workers and physiotherapists (which is often the case in Ontario), patients can turn to private homeware and physiotherapy in the interim, allowing them to return home and wait for publicly funded care at home instead of in the hospital.
- Begin Mobilizing As Soon As Possible
Starting to mobilize as soon as possible after a hospital stay is essential to regaining your strength and mobility. Even if you’re bedridden, there are simple exercises you can do to promote circulation and prevent blood clots. Here are some exercises to get started:
- Ankle pumps: Lie on your back with your legs straight. Point your toes up and down, repeating the motion for several sets of 10 repetitions.
- Leg lifts: Lie on your back with your legs straight. Lift one leg a few inches off the bed, hold it for a few seconds, then lower it. Repeat for several sets of 10 repetitions.
- Arm circles: Sit up straight in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Extend your arms straight out to the sides and make small circles with your arms. Repeat for several sets of 10 repetitions.
As you progress in your recovery, you can gradually introduce light walking and gentle stretching exercises. Remember to follow your doctor’s advice and take it slowly at first. Listen to your body and stop if you experience any pain or discomfort. You will most likely see a physiotherapist in hospital. Though physiotherapy might seem like the last thing you want to do in hospital, keep in mind that it is much easier to maintain your muscle mass in hospital than it is to try to regain it once you are home. Did you know that up to 40% of strength can be lost within 1 week of immobilization? (Parry, 2015)
- Consult With A Professional
Consulting with a professional is an essential part of regaining your strength and mobility after a hospital stay. A physiotherapist or occupational therapist can work with you to develop an exercise plan that is tailored to your specific needs and limitations. They can also monitor your progress and make adjustments to your plan as needed. Here are some ways that a professional can help:
- Develop an exercise plan: A professional can develop an exercise plan that is specific to your condition and goals. They can help you set achievable targets and advise on how to modify your exercise plan as your condition changes.
- Monitor your progress: A professional can monitor your progress and adjust your plan as needed. They can also provide feedback on your technique to ensure you’re doing the exercises correctly.
- Provide guidance and motivation: A professional can provide guidance on proper technique and help prevent further injury. They can also offer motivation and support, which can be critical during the recovery process.
In conclusion, regaining your strength and mobility after a hospital stay requires a structured approach and a commitment to your recovery. By planning ahead, starting mobilizing as soon as possible, and consulting with a professional,