After surgery you may have to deal with stiffness, soreness, pain and limited mobility. Various types of surgery such as hip, knee, foot, ankle, back, abdominal, and chest surgery involve the necessity to limit your activities. As a result you may need assistive equipment at home.
- The healing process includes refraining from activities involving lifting, bending, reaching or stooping for several weeks or even months or longer.
- Often, you have to be very cautious about your return to full physical activities since, following surgery, proper and fully healing of bones may take more than a year.
Back at home
It’s only after discharge from the hospital and rehab center when you fully realize how difficult many, previously normal, everyday activities can be. Simple things as going to the bathroom or taking a shower suddenly become a struggle.
Or even worse, practically impossible to manage alone. And lets face it, even though asking for help is a sign of strength, no-one likes to be dependent on other people all the time.
Especially when it comes to the more private activities such as those taking place in the bathroom.
Which is why being prepared is an essential thing. So when you are discharged, your home is adapted in such way that you can get around literally and figuratively as much as possible on your own.
Rehabilitation at home after being discharged from the hospital is one thing. Getting around and being independent as much as possible is another.
The benefits of post-surgery aids
There are various post-surgery aids designed to make the recovery process more convenient. Many focus on helping you transfer from one place to another.
Apart from being serviceable, such products also aid the healing process by increasing your mobility and protecting you from falling, straining, dislocating and other injuries that can cause complications. Such actions could occur when performing unnatural maneuvers caused by disability.
You are very vulnerable just having had surgery, your body needs to heal and the risk on falling or hurting yourself in another way during these early activities is increased.
Also, management of severe pain requires strong medicine such as opiates and narcotics. These powerful analgesics may render you drowsy or unsteady, influencing your sense of balance and may cause you to feel faint, lightheaded, dizzy, sleepy or make your legs feel weak.
Even if you have to give, for example your knee, lots of rest and you may be uncomfortable or have pain it is still critical that you move because this will speed your recovery.
You can pick up with walking, riding a stationary bike, swimming, and light exercises whether or not as a form of physical therapy as soon as your doctor says you’re ready.
Here’s a list of useful post-surgery assistive devices. Surgery recovery appliances that help you with reaching, twisting, bending, stretching, lifting, turning, washing, and other daily activities. Things like washing, going to the bathroom, getting up and out of bed, getting in cars et cetera.
Some may not be relevant to recovering from your particular procedure but this is meant as an overview to help you decide what you may need. A reminder of things you may have not thought about that can really make a difference in how your aftercare during the healing process will proceed.
Aids that act as a safeguard, extend your reach, offer freedom of movement and increase your independence when you are recovering from surgery. After all, post-op healing can take hard work so every bit of help and safekeeping is welcome.
Whether you are in a wheelchair because you had ankle surgery or just aren’t allowed to bend or reach due to a back surgery, a good reacher is a lifesaver.
Most reachers are lightweight and some come with a magnetic tip.
A well-designed grabber lets you pick up anything without much effort such as coins, sheets of paper or your phone on the floor. But also hard to reach items in your cupboard or clothes in a closet.
Hack, with a little bit of conviction you can even pick up girls with it.
The Ettore 49036 Grip ‘n Grab is a well-constructed reacher with an ergonomic design which is essential since you will probably be using it a lot for a while.
The Grip ‘n Grab is easy to use, can lift up to 5 pounds and comes in a 50 inch long version too.
Vehicle support handle
Especially following back surgery getting in and out a car isn’t easy. Anyone who has had a major surgery knows how hard it is to get in car. Let alone to get out.
A vehicle support handle helps you enter and exit cars more conveniently and safely. And more elegantly for that matter too.
The Handybar increases your independence since you will not need assistance anymore.
Get in and out faster, safer, and reduce the risk of falling. This is an invaluable post-op aid since it will greatly increase your mobility. You can get out a lot more and who wouldn’t like that in these tough, often boring times.
The Avin Handybar has a capacity 350 pounds and easily slides into car door latch for optimal leverage.
Swivel cushions make turning easier while putting less stress on the healing body. Often used on seats in the home but also on car seats.
A swivel seat device makes it easier to turn towards the car door opening, the TV while sitting behind the PC playing a computer game, or the misses cooking a meal in the kitchen.
Keep in mind that some swivel cushions may not work as well in deep cushion seats such as recliners and some very soft car seats.
On flat, harder surfaced chairs and more firm car seats they can be a huge help and safety aid. They allow you to rotate your body gently into the direction you want to look at or move towards.
The Duro-Med Deluxe is the best selling swivel seat cushion on Amazon.
Tip: sitting on a plastic garbage bag makes rotating your body easier when getting in and out of the car.
Putting on your socks with your limited range of motion after surgery can be a daunting task.
Sometimes you need to wear compression stockings after the operation too.
But bending over and reaching for your feet after a hip surgery or other type of surgery is impossible.
And so is putting on socks the normal way. Which is why sock assists are so useful.
Sock Aid lets you put on your socks one-handed and without having to flex your leg.
Some people also use the plastic cup trick to put on socks after hip surgery.
The tool on the photo is the top rated Sock Aid on Amazon.
Long handle shoe horn
Being able to put shoes on and off without bending and stretching is key to succesful recovery.
At the and of the day, in most cases, the adage, the more you walk the quicker you recover, is true.
So a sturdy 24 inch long shoe horn can be of immense value during your healing period.
This extra long Shacke shoe horn is probably the best you can get. Some people prefer to wear slip on shoes so they don’t need a shoe horn.
Leg circulation devices
Leg circulation devices are essentially pumps that release and squeeze thus stimulating blood flow.
These devices are also called wraps, massagers, machines, socks, or pillows and are often used in hospitals.
They are commonly used when patients do not get much exercise or aren’t able to walk or move their legs.
For example after a knee or hip replacement, pressure from the thigh to the ankle helps prevent blood cloths reducing the risk on deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Circulation is improved in the lower extremities thus helping the blood to flow back to the heart.
Apart from improving circulation, leg wraps also have a relaxing effect on your legs, soothe swelling and reduce sore muscles. Which is why leg circulation wraps are often used by people who suffer from sensitive, swollen, numbing, tingling, or cold feet. Or people who sit all day.
When recovering from foot or ankle surgery a lot of pressure is put on the good foot. Such a surgery involves no weight bearing for 8-16 weeks which is often underestimated.
It means it interferes with all kinds of simple household tasks such as carrying laundry to the washer or even standing in front of the range cooking a meal.
Many people feel insecure when hopping on crutches or walkers. This often leads to additional injuries or breaking another appendage.
A safe alternative to crutches is provided by a knee walker (also called rolleraids or knee scooters).
These are commonly used after breaks, sprains, amputations, foot ulcers and foot or ankle surgery.
A steerable knee walker expands your mobility and takes all the pressure off your ankle without sacrificing mobility and mobility while keeping your hands free.
These aids can be tremendously pricey in medical stores yet the Drive walker from Amazon is relatively affordable.
Hand bed rail, bed assist handle
You may have practiced getting in and out of bed when still in the hospital. Often a physical therapist will teach you how to get out of bed safely.
Once at home you will have to do it on your own.
The trick is to roll over onto your side, then bend your knees until your legs are hanging over the side of the bed. With your arms you lift your upper body up and by pushing off you will stand.
A supportive device such as the very well-reviewed Drive Medical Adjustable Height Home Bed Assist Handle makes this process a whole lot easier and less risky.
Grab bars, standing poles, and the Able Tray
Installing some grab bars and security rails in the house can be very useful.
There is a wide variety among these items and mostly they are placed in the bathroom near the shower or toilet, in the bedroom next to the bed or in the living room besides the couch or favorite chair.
Since we covered all these locations in the home with other devices except for the chair we will show a special type of grabbing assistant, the Able Tray.
Apart from getting in and up from your chair it also provides you with some additional support and balance when seated. The Able Tray works well with a recliner too.
Lightweight quad cane
Going for walks and even standing up can be challenging at first.
A bit of extra stability can be a real stimulus when you are still a bit unsteady.
This particular quad cane is lightweight and foldable making it a great help following certain types of surgery.
Post surgery aids for in the bathroom
The bathroom is probably the most high risk area of the household when recovering from surgery. Slippery floors, getting down and back up from the toilet, washing and showering while keeping balance all bring significant risks and difficulties when you are temporarily disabled due to surgery.
Non slip shower mat
A shower mat that provides extra grip does not only prevent you from falling in the shower but also gives you a piece of mind because of an extra sense of security.
After all, the thought of slipping and running the risk of worsening your situation is terrifying.
This Rubbermaid commercial bath mat has suction cups on the bottom for secure attachment to the floor of a shower stall or bath tub and a textured zigzag pattern on the top that provides traction while also diverting slippery soap residue.
Bath bench / shower chair
Bath tub transfer benches and shower chairs are used to get in and out of the bath tub and to be able to sit under the shower.
They come in various sizes and models. You have them with back and arms or without and even with a handheld shower
It’s essential these supportive devices are strong and sturdy, have the right size, have suction cups so they won’t slip which also have to be easy to remove for other people using the bath tub or shower.
If you had surgery and need help showering these may proof invaluable. Visit Amazon for the best rated bath benches.
Looking for a DIY hack? Some people put a small step ladder in the bathroom to help them get in and out of the tub and up and down from the toilet.
Toilet seat riser
Sitting down or getting back up from the toilet can be a pain when common commodes are too low.
Toilet seat risers elevate the toilet which make them a much appreciated aid after knee surgery, hip replacement surgery, and for TKR surgery patients.
Their additional height makes it easier for you to lift yourself up.
What to look for?
Make sure the elevated toilet seat you get is stable, strong and secure, and of the exact right height.
Consider if you will benefit from a model that has handles. Some more versatile models have removable arms. If you don’t need added height but do want some extra support you could opt for a toilet safety rail instead of a toilet seat elevator.
On the photo: Drive Medical Premium Seat Riser.
You may not be able to access the bathroom in your home the first days or weeks following the procedure.
A portable potty for adults on the floor you are staying on can be the solution.
The benefits of this sturdy and stable bedside commode is not only that it allows you to create a temporary bathroom but you can remove the potty bowl and place the chair as a safety rail over your bathroom toilet.
So when you are able to reach the bathroom again you’ll have a safety rail at hand.
The adjustable legs allow for easy height adjustion. On top of that this Medline multifunctional bedside commode is very affordable too.
Toilet wipe aid
Being able to go to the toilet alone and maintaining personal hygiene afterwards independently helps maintain your dignity.
Especially after back surgery your ability to twist, bend or reach is very limited.
As a result, personal cleansing habits are disrupted.
A well-built and easy to use hygiene aid helps you function independently when using the toilet.
Especially when it comes to toilet aids, design is of utmost importance. Accurate placement and sufficient pressure are crucial.
A good toilet wipe device must grip the paper tightly, allow you to give a good wipe by creating some resistance (the Bottom Buddy does this thanks to its rubbery head) under a fitting angle due to a curved shape.
Of course it should be designed in such manner that you will never get your hands dirty nor still have to stretch or reach. The Bottom Buddy is such a quality device that is comfortable to use. It is better reviewed than the also popular Self-Wipe.
Portable bidet / squeeze bottle
Another solution to the problem of properly cleaning yourself up after a post-op recovery bowel movement is by using a squeeze bottle or handheld bidet.
Filled with lukewarm water squirt bottles make a sanitary wash during the surgery recovery period both easier and more gentle to thwe rectal area.
Especially after colorectal surgery or bowel surgery portable bidets are valued for their gentle pressure and cooling effect besides getting clean ‘back there’.
Things to consider
A curved spout can be useful to reache where you can’t. Also so sufficient water quantity is crucial when you plan on using the bottle in public restrooms.
One of the most popular squeeze bottles is the Brondell GoSpa GS-70 Travel Bidet.
Long handled bath sponge
Bathing and showering belong to the most problematic tasks after a surgery.
As if limited mobility, imbalance, physical weakness aren’t enough, you have to keep your incisions dry as well.
The benefits of this post surgery aid are self-explanatory. Just as a grabber does the reaching for you, this long handled bath sponge allows you to wash yourself without twisting, bending, or reaching.
The Aquasentials exfoliation brush can also be used as a moisturizing lotion applicator.
In the first weeks after the operation sitting can be pretty uncomfortable and downright painful. The angled positioning in a recliner can help reduce pressure on your lower back.
For the same reason, extra well-placed normal seat and sofa cushions or typical post-op cushions can be used to make sitting more bearable.
A wide range of cushions is availble including stress-easy pillows, cervical rest pillows, neckbone chiropractical pillows, and bed wedge pillows.
Ring cushions or donut cushions
These cushions are designed to relieve discomfort and pain in the sensitive inner region and redistribute pressure to the outer seating contact area.
When sitting after surgeries of the perineum area is painful or inconvenient these cushions offer support in the right areas and relief.
The hole in the middle alleviates pressure on the prostate and anal region and are therefore also often used for swolle prostate, persistent prostatitis or chronic pelvic pain, and hemorrhoids.
Or tailbone cushions as they are referred to as well are designed to relieve pressure on the spine and tailbone.
Often recommended after back surgery but also for back pain relief.
These cushions are also popular among people who have to sit for long time on hard chairs.
Coccyx cushions are also often used to help relieve inflammatory pain, or to relieve pressure on the back and pelvic area during pregnancy.
Accupuncture wrist band
The final product on this list. Admitted, this one is somewhat controversial because accupuncture? Isn’t that new age baloney?
As a matter of fact, recent research indicates it may not be entirely hokum. Two recent studies on the efficacy of acupuncture wrist bands have been done.
One study found that gynaecological surgery patients wearing the bands had significantly reduced nausea and vomiting, were sick for a shorter time, and had fewer doses of anti-emetics than the control group.
Another study found that although droperidol was most effective the day of surgery, neither acupressure bands or droperidol were effective in reducing PONV.
What’s more convincing though are the anecdotal reports. This is just one example of a remedy that, although not proven by science, seems to work for a whole lot of people.
Call it placebo effect or not, if it works it works. If you are prone to suffering from post surgery nausea and vomiting the Sea Band might not be such a useless post surgery assistent after all. Even if you belong to the most ardent skeptics, do yourself a favor and check out the reviews.
Tips on where to get your post-surgery recovery aids
- Once you are in the rehabilitation facility you will get familiar with many of these devices. Make sure to check your insurance plan first to find out which post-op aids may be covered before you buy them.
- It can be very convenient and give piece of mind when you aquire your assistive aids prior to surgery.
- Devices such as canes and walkers, toilet seat risers and shower chairs are usually covered by insurance. Inform with your doctor and ask if they can be sent to your home. Do note that often the equipment provided by insurance companies is not of the highest quality. (i.e. less stable, less sturdy)
- Find out if you can rent the devices you will need at a medical supply stores. You could also search for second hand equipement at Salvation Army or other resale stores.
- Also make sure to check online before you purchase at the local Medical Supply store because prices may be much lower on Amazon.
- When you are going back to work, ask the human resources department for ergonomic consultation for an ergonomic office chair or other workplace adjustments.