Recovery from brain surgery is a continual process. Many challenges may arise in the months following surgery, which is why it is so important to prepare properly for the recovery journey.
Brain surgery may be necessary due to birth defects, disease, injury, growths/tumors and/or other medical problems. It can be dangerous simply because the human brain is filled with a wide variety of complex structures and billions of different neural connections.
Let’s examine the recovery process after surgery to remove a brain growth. Recovery is highly dependent on the specific location of the tumor or growth. Each area of the brain maps to a specific skill, ability, or thought process. And as with most other recoveries, the course of the care plan can change between the transition from hospital to home.
During a Hospital Stay
Medical teams will map the exact location of the growth in the patient’s brain using imaging scans. This process can be done months in advance and is used by the medical team to create a surgical plan.
Doctors will discuss the potential side effects with the patient and their family. However, it is tough to accurately determine the extent to which each symptom will affect the patient. The surgeon’s job is to remove as much of the growth as possible without damaging essential brain functions. The outcome of surgery is dependent on the size and location of the growth, the surgeon’s experience and skill, and the patient’s health.
The majority of patients who have brain surgery still have all of the same personal qualities, knowledge, and memories.
Following the surgery, patients are transferred to the intensive care unit. There, brain functions and vital signs are carefully monitored by nurses and physicians. Walking and talking after brain surgery are good signs that basic brain functions have not been compromised.
A patient may experience difficulties with memory, movement, or speech. Yet, this does not mean that they will have a permanent disability. Swelling or bruising can occur in the brain following surgery, and it generally improves in the weeks after. Patients are transferred to a regular hospital room roughly 24 hours later if no complications arise.
An assessment is typically administered by a physical and occupational therapist. A speech assessment may also be performed if the language center of the brain was affected during the surgery. This information will help determine if the patient will need any additional services, therapy, or assistance before or after they go home.
Sometimes the most difficult part of recovery occurs after patients leave the hospital. Some patients may experience mild side effects, such as muscle weakness or memory problems, while others may experience more severe symptoms. Either way, any side effects can be unnerving for patients and their family members.
Physical and cognitive effects can last weeks or months after the surgery. This can be frustrating and may feel limiting for the patient. Patients should talk to their doctors about their recovery goals; it’s important to recognize that small improvements are important, and there is no need for over exertion.
Patients should have a solid care team in place, which includes family members and friends who can provide emotional support. Occupational and physical therapy can be helpful—and may be required—for some patients. OTs and PTs can offer solutions on how to help them cope with side effects they’re experiencing during the recovery process.
The majority of patients who undergo brain surgery will experience a full recovery. Research is being done to discover which techniques best preserve the functions of the brain. This means safer operations and better outcomes for people who need brain surgery.
NurseRegistry has highly qualified and skilled nurses that can provide around the clock care after surgery. Their goal is to ensure a safe, comfortable recovery, reduce the risk of post-operative infection, provide symptom relief and comfort, and improve quality of life for the patient—all in the comfort of the patient’s own home.
Call us at 650-462-1001 to hire a nurse today for care following surgery.
The National Brain Tumor Society has supportive resources for patients in recovery.
American Brain Tumor Association provides extensive information and resources.
Additional resources and information can be found on the Brain Tumor Network site.