It’s important to practice deep breathing and coughing so that you’ll be able to do the exercises below easily after surgery. If you’ve been given an incentive spirometer (IS) also practice using it. These exercises will help your breathing, clear your lungs, and lower your risk of pneumonia.
Breathe deeply and cough every hour while you’re awake for the first 2 to 3 days after minor surgery, and until the pain in your incision is gone after you’ve had major surgery. These exercises work better if you do them sitting up.
It’s also important to move and change your position often. These position changes help to make your breathing and coughing exercises work better.
Do these exercises every hour when you’re awake.
If you’ve been given an incentive spirometer, use it every hour while you’re awake. The instructions below are for the Voldyne® spirometer. If you have a different type of incentive spirometer, please read the manufacturer’s instructions.
*As you use the IS more often, move the yellow slider on the side of the unit to the highest level you can reach. Try to reach this level with each breath, always remembering to breathe in slowly.
Coughing exercises are best done when you’re feeling comfortable. Your healthcare provider will tell you if you shouldn’t do the coughing exercises below.
Foot and leg exercises, also help you to get better sooner and prevent problems like blood clots. You may also have SCD stockings (Sequential Compression Devices) on your legs (the stockings inflate and deflate to keep good blood flow in your legs).
Do these exercises every hour while you’re awake.
If your surgeon says you can:
Change your position every hour while awake, or as directed by your nurse. It’s important to move often to prevent problems like a lung infection, blood clots, and weak muscles.
Call your nurse if you need help.
Once you’re allowed to get up:
If you have any questions about these exercises, please ask your physical therapist or nurse.
Current as of: May 8, 2019
Author: Provincial Physiotherapy Professional Practice Council, Alberta Health Services
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