Preoperative care The physiotherapist has an important role to play in assessing which patients being prepared for surgery are at risk of developing complications that she may help to prevent. As a member of the surgical team in the surgical ward she may be alerted about any problems or potential problems by the medical or nursing staff. The medical history of any patient must be checked for any respiratory or circulatory problems that could place the patient at risk or any other factors such as smoking, obesity, inactivity because of another disease or injury or age that could predispose to post–operative complications. The physiotherapist will explain to the patient why treatment is necessary and teach the patient the exercises that he will be required to perform post–operatively. Respiratory movements will concentrate on lower costal and posterior basal movement. The patient will be taught how to cough effectively and how to support the wound site. Instruction will be given on the leg exercises that the patient will be expected to do post–operatively and any other exercises or postural correction that may be related to specific surgical procedures.
The patient should practice the exercises so that they become familiar and are performed correctly. If the preoperative treatment is taught carefully it will be much easier for the patient to respond to instructions post–operatively. It is very important that whenever possible the same physiotherapist should treat the patient both preoperatively and post–operatively.