Here’s an acute illness or surgery recovery tip you may not hear often: get out of bed and move about as soon as your doctor says it is safe.

“Many patients and relatives think that weeks of bed rest or strict bed rest is best so patients are reluctant to get out of bed and their relatives reinforce it. On the contrary, too much bed rest slows down recovery and can cause complications,” says Ms Chen Ziyan, Occupational Therapist, KTPH.

Prolonged Bed Rest Complications

Complications of prolonged bed rest include decreased muscle strength and blood flow, pressure sores and constipation. Prolonged bed rest may result in patients losing their ability and their ability to dress, shower or use the toilet on their own, leaving them more disabled than when they were first warded.

This loss of independence caused by prolonged bed rest is known as a hospital-acquired disability. It affects about 3 in 10 older Singaporeans who are hospitalised.

Fear of pain can also be an issue, especially after surgery. However, patients are given pain relief so they can move comfortably after the doctor permits the patient out of bed.

Patients are also supervised by a nurse, physiotherapist or occupational therapist the first few times they get out of prolonged bed rest to ensure they are safe and their tubes and drips don’t get caught or dislodged.

Once patients gain confidence and have acquired enough muscle strength, family members can accompany them as they move around.

“Even small steps such as getting out of bed to sit in a chair to watch television and using the toilet make a difference. The more patients do for themselves, the more independence they retain, and the easier it is for them and their families when they go home,” adds Ms Chen.

Prolonged bed rest can cause complications to a patient’s health.

Get Moving and Prevent Hospital-Acquired Disabilities

The best way to stay independent when hospitalised is to start moving as soon as your doctor says you are allowed out of bed.

However, if you are wearing a green wristband, that means you are at risk of falls, so press the call bell and ask the nurse for help when following these in-patient or surgery recovery tips:

Patients can increase their muscle strength after prolonged bed rest by changing their daily routine

Remember: Always consult your nurses and doctors to confirm whether you are allowed to get out of bed.

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