If you recently had a tumor surgically removed from your brain, you can be proud of your courage and strength. The surgical procedure is a challenging operation and once successfully completed, you can re-begin your life. However before that comes an important step after brain tumor sugery. Extreme care and recovery is mandatory after any brain tumor surgery to ensure your overall well being. Once the neurosurgery is over, it will take time for you to regain your original level of energy. Plenty of rest is needed to provide adequate healing time for the brain tissues.
How much time?
The time needed to safely recover after the surgery varies with each individual and depends on the following factors:
– The type of procedure used for resection of the brain tumor.
– The location occupied by the mass of rapidly dividing cells in your brain.
– Those areas of the brain that went under the knife.
– Other age and health related factors.
– Extent and probability of post-operative complications.
Thus it is hard to determine the exact duration of your hospital stay when so many factors need to be considered.
Some patients remain heavily sedated or unconscious for a few days after the surgery while majority of them gain consciousness a few hours later. For complete care and protection, you might find yourself in either an intensive care unit (ICU) or in a high dependency unit for recovery (HDU) where an anesthetist and a neurosurgeon monitor your medical progress. A lot depends on the way you respond to the treatment. In the hospital, care is taken at every step. Frequent neurological observations are recorded along with other vital measurements such as blood pressure.
As you’ll be in a weak condition post surgery, nutrition and fluids are provided to your body through intravenous infusions. An external drain known as ventricular drain is attached to collect excess fluid so as to prevent hydrocephalus. After care includes maintenance of fluid balance to make you feel better and also to prevent swelling at the site of operation. After a few days go by, doctors and your loved ones take care by preventing you from straining your mind or body. This is very important as intracranial pressure is related to exertion.
You’ll be advised to lie with your head raised to curb the brain swelling. Rest is essential but you will be still be encouraged to move your extremities at frequent intervals so as to keep the blood circulation smooth and avoid limb stiffening. Try not to cough too hard as such actions elevate intracerebral pressure.
Rehabilitation after Surgery
This forms a solid part of the entire treatment plan. The goal of each rehabilitation plan differs in accordance with the patient’s needs and the deficiencies the tumor has brought about. Tumors of the brain and their consequent removal can give rise to problems with behavior, thinking processes and feelings. The patient will need assistance in recovering. Therefore rehabilitation specialists including physical therapists, occupational therapist and speech and language specialists offer their help in the follow-up stage. The motive of introducing you to such therapies is to accelerate your recovery and to help make the entire experience less strenuous.
An occupational therapist bases his/ her therapy on their assessment of your ability to carry out certain activities that are done on a daily basis (for example- taking a shower, dressing, etc). Accordingly, they recommend equipment or modifications in your house so that it becomes easier for you to perform your usual activities. An evaluation of your vision is also performed.
Physiotherapist: Certain brain tumors along with their treatment (other than surgical) can cause weakness in the body or even paralysis. A physical therapist will help you to regain balance and strength while walking and also concentrates on those physical aspects that have been impacted due to the tumor.
A speech therapist: evaluates the recuperating patient for any changes in their ability to swallow. Also, if the brain tumor retards your speech synthesis or fluency, the therapist will offer help. This enables you to express your thoughts as clearly as prior to the surgery.
What about Young Children?
For children who have experienced a brain tumor surgery, a few special arrangements are made as soon as possible. In some cases, school-age children have tutors teach them after their stay in the hospital. Occasionally special classes are arranged for them in case they exhibit certain difficulties in learning and retaining information. The follow-up specialists strive to restore communication aberrations (speech, language) through professional therapy. Sometimes, the tumor and its treatment brings about changes in the gland function leading to diabetes insipidus, growth related issues, or premature or delayed puberty. this is because hormone-secreting glands in the brain control growth, metabolism and sexual development.
Rigorous Activities: Post treatment, you must stay away from contact sports such as rugby or boxing on a permanent basis. However, you can resume other sports activities after full recovery and after obtaining approval from your doctor. Unsupervised swimming for approximately a year after the surgery is not recommended due to the risk of seizures while in the water.
Return to Work: It is not uncommon for you to feel drained physically as well as emotionally after such invasive medical procedures. Even though the idea of resuming work may seem appealing, do not opt for full time work. Start with a part-time work schedule and with time, switch to more working hours. Take note: Working at heights and with machines is not advisable due to the risk of triggering a seizure attack.
A life altering event such as a tumor removal brain surgery can make you feel annoyed, frustrated and helpless all at the same time. A psychologist can help you deal with pain management and depression. Follow-up care is a step which holds equal importance as the surgery.