Friday, 6 April 2012

DVT Rehab: Mobilization

You've just been diagnosed with a blood clot (DVT), got into a routine with your meds and may have been bed bound/on bed rest for a little while (in my case 11 weeks). You're probably wondering when can you start getting up and about so that you can get on with your life. I'm afraid the answer is only after clearance from your health care provider; once they are happy you can begin the road to mobilization.
Depending on how bad your DVT was - including another complications like pulmonary embolisms - will depend on what kind of fitness and mobility you have to start with. I'll be writing from my perspective which was pretty dire to begin with. On my first day of mobilization I could just about hop from my bed to chair; the chair was next to the bed and I essentially did a swivel bum movement. As I got some strength and appetite back and began to increase my activity - washing myself, going to the bathroom on crutches etc - I thought about why mobilizing as early as possible can be the best form of recovery: lying in bed all day is going to do very little to help you get your life back.
On my short escapades to the bathroom (unassisted I might add) I came up with the following tips:

Benefits of Mobilization
  • It increases the circulation
  • Improves the health of the distressed vein (the one with the clot)
  • Improves your lung function - this will have severely decreased if you've been bed bound
  • Increase your fitness - again this will have decreased from being bed bound
Tips for Mobilizing
  • Don't push yourself - at the first sign of fatigue or pain stop immediately and elevate your limb as this will help to flush the blood back to the heart. If your pain doesn't get better then see your health care provider straight away
  • Time your activity - I find doing my activity a couple of hours after my pain med is the best time
  • Drink plenty of fluids - as your fitness increases you may begin to sweat more
  • Rest - after your activity rest your limb so that it has a chance to repair and recover
Options for Increasing Mobility
  • No more than strenuous walking - don't go running straight away and if you get pain/fatigue stop, rest, elevate.
  • Cycling - this is great for increasing your range of motion and increasing the strength in your leg
  • Swimming - a non-weight bearing exercise that increases circulation and improves cardiovascular fitness.
Now of course you shouldn't be doing any of this without being cleared by your doctor and you would have (preferably) some physio sessions before hand to make sure you are will enough to be on the road to rehab. Don't forget to wear those sexy compression stockings as they help with your circulation.
If you have any other tips for rehab or want to share a story leave me a note in the comments, take care.

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