top of page

Physiotherapists and the Cardiac Patient

The surgery lights turn off, the scrub nurse and perfusionist prepare you for the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and you are wheeled off to a place you are yet to experience and know very little of: the postoperative setting. There you are met and treated by a reel of ICU angels and monitored by your specialist doctors, with surprise visits from a physiotherapist and nutritionist. The postoperative reality is one that belongs to all surgery patients, and one that is studded with questions specifically surrounding the healing and care of the cardiac patient. For an individual unfamiliar with the medical field, the different and necessary facets, namely the physio- and nutritional therapies, that add to the wholesome healing process are largely unknown fields; fields that have found to contribute greatly to the optimal healing of a patient. Complications and discomforts that present during the postoperative periods are believed to venture into the specialist space of the physiotherapist. The treatment and prevention of these postoperative complications and discomforts is the beginning of their responsibilities and capabilities. Their knowledge of bodily motion and movement allows the physiotherapist to aid in promoting the increased functionality of the lungs and promote physical activity of the right type in a safe space. The supervised movement even extends into psychological grounds, aiding in the development of the gross motor skills (considering the patient is that of a baby or toddler).

After conducting a study particularly relating to the care of cardiac patients, the Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery reportedly found shoulder range motion exercises to be incredibly beneficial to the cardiac patient: improving ventilation and preserving thorax, or mid-back, and the thoracic-cage mobility - especially important for the growing spine and important in the reduction of pain surrounding and treatment of the sternum incision. Often the cardiothoracic surgeon offers recommendations to ensure no unnecessary or additional pressure and pain is placed on the chest incision. The surgeon and physiotherapist often inform the patient of sternal precautions for getting in and out of bed. As the time between operation and post-op life lengthens, the movements become more varied until the patient is able to perform nearly all exercises without increased risk. Next week, we take a look at the role of nutritional therapy in the healing process of the cardiac patient.


© Maboneng Heart and Lung Institute 2017 | Featured Images: Jesper Aggergaard & TeachMeAnatomy Sources:


Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Instagram Social Icon
bottom of page