Recovery after a brain surgery varies from patient to patient and is dependent on four factors:
- The patient's age and his general condition prior to surgery
- Site of the brain where the tumor is located
- Areas of brain that will be affected by the surgery
- Type of surgery done to remove the tumor
Normally, a patient has to stay in the hospital for 4 to 5 days following brain surgery. However, it depends up on the nature of surgery performed and whether there are any post-operative complications that have to be dealt with. Once the effect of anesthesia has worn off and the patient is awake and conscious, he is encouraged to move his legs and change his position frequently. This is done to minimize the risk of thrombo-embolism and development of bed sores. He is also asked to cough frequently and take deep breaths to open up the airways. The patient is advised to get up from his bed and start moving as soon as possible.
It is important to remember that the first few days after the brain surgery are really difficult for the patient and his family members. In fact, the patient may feel worse than what he did prior to the surgery. But this feeling will remain only for a few days after which the benefit of surgery will become obvious. Initially, there is a lot of swelling of the scalp. This makes the head feel really heavy. The patient may be confused about time and place and may get spells of dizziness. These are periodic episodes that wear off soon. However, if the relatives have not been properly briefed about them prior to the surgery, they may feel that something has gone wrong during the operation. They should be told that it is a normal part of the recovery process.
Apart from these short term problems, there are certain long term problems too arising after brain surgery. The patient must be prepared to face them. The patient may complain of weakness of upper or lower limbs, difficulty in walking, and speech problems. For dealing with these problems, the patient is often offered speech therapy, physiotherapy and occupational therapy. Recovering from these problems may take a long time, but with persistent effort of the patient and help from others, there is hardly any problem that cannot be overcome.
Patients are encouraged to undertake normal activities as soon as they feel fit enough. However, they are dissuaded from doing strenuous work for at six to eight weeks after surgery. This is the time taken for the sutures to heal sufficiently. A person doing a desk job can resume work two to six weeks after surgery.
Normally, if post-surgery, the patient suffers from fits, the problem gets over spontaneously within six months. However, in rare circumstances, the patient may have fits beyond six months. Patients of brain surgery are recommended not to swim for at least one year after surgery to avoid an epileptic fit inside water. They are recommended to give up on contact sports like soccer and boxing but may take part in other sports once their doctor declares them fit. Driving should be undertaken once after the physician permits the patient to do so. However, the patients can fly within three months of brain surgery.
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