Why You May Need Physical Therapy After Brain Surgery

If you or a loved one are going to be having a brain tumor removed, one of the last things you may be thinking about is physical therapy. The concept of brain surgery can be very scary, but once the patient has successfully pulled through it, there's still work to be done. Patients who have undergone brain surgery may experience physical problems that physical therapy can help with.

Physical Symptoms

Following brain surgery, it's not uncommon for patients to experience weakness in their limbs and dizziness. Some recovering patients may find that it's difficult to maintain their balance, or that walking requires extreme focus. While it may be disturbing to feel this way after surgery, it doesn't necessarily mean that anything went wrong during surgery, or that the patient will be that way forever.

Traumatized Brain

The brain, like every other part of the body, goes through a trauma during an operation. If, for example, you badly broke your arm and a surgeon had to operate to repair it, the skin, tissue, and muscle they cut through would need time to heal so you could move your arm properly again. The brain is infinitely more complex, but it experiences the same kind of trauma and needs time to recover. It's quite common for the brain to undergo slight swelling after an operation, which may cause certain neural pathways to not function the way they used to. As a result, certain actions (like walking) may seem far more difficult than they did.

How Therapy Helps

Physical therapy can help patients to recover their physical ability to walk, maneuver, and balance like they used to. In some cases, where brain damage has occurred, physical therapy can help the brain to develop new neural pathways. These neural pathways are like taking a side road - it allows the brain to send a signal around the damaged areas. Without practice, these pathways are unlikely to develop, but by purposefully and carefully encouraging the brain to perform actions like stretching, reaching, and balancing, the brain will learn to compensate for the damage it's experienced.

Even though the majority of the body isn't harmed or affected by brain surgery, the organ that's responsible for controlling all of it is. If you have brain surgery planned, it may be frustrating to know that your body may not work the way you want it to, but with time and physical therapy, you'll be able to get back to normal.