What to Expect After Spinal Fusion Surgery

Sitting, Standing, and Walking

Immediately after your scoliosis surgery your nurses will be helping you with any necessary movement, but by the time you are ready to go home, you will be walking out the door. How can this happen in less than a week? Your physical therapist is the key. He or she is the person who will help you and your family learn the correct way to move in bed, as well as to sit and walk properly. Together, you and your physical therapist will set goals for moving in bed, sitting up and walking.
For the first three days after your spinal surgery, you will be on a special bed that turns you continuously, this bed is called a Hill-Rom Sport bed. The turning is done very slowly and you will usually stay in each position for about 15 minutes. This can be adjusted according to your comfort level. The only thing you have to do when being turned is RELAX, and tell us how we can position you more comfortably. Turning keeps you from getting stiff and helps to prevent pressure on your skin which can cause sore spots and the changing of position also helps your lungs stay in good condition.
You will meet your physical therapist the day after your surgery. Your physical therapist will talk to you and your family about moving in bed, sitting, standing and walking. Your therapist will assist you in sitting up on the edge of the bed. You will sit for several minutes to become accustomed to the change in position. The therapist will then help you to stand. You will stand for a few minutes while holding on to something to stabilize yourself. Deep breathing is often helpful when standing for the first time after surgery as it helps to relax your body and keep you calm. Day two is also the day you will begin to walk. The therapist will hold on to you to help keep you steady as you take a few steps. Your therapist will not make you walk farther than you can, but will ask you to set a goal to walk a little farther each time you get out of bed.
You will be walking more each day and will be able to venture out of your room, walk around the nurses’ station, down the hall, to the activity room located on the third floor, or as far as you can go.
Because the physical therapist will only visit you once or twice a day, your nurse will often be the one helping you to do these things. Try to remember, the key to feeling better faster and returning home sooner, is to get out of bed and keep moving!
Once you are able to get out of bed and walk with the help of your family, you will be able to get up when you want to and soon will no longer need assistance each time you want to go for a walk.