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Thursday, March 7, 2024

Thank You For Being A Friend


Unsung Heroes: The vital role of patient support networks in surgery

In the realm of surgery, the spotlight often shines on the surgeons and the cutting-edge technology they employ to help their patients. However, behind every successful surgery lies a network of unsung heroes—the patient’s support group of family, friends and caregivers. They play an indispensable role in the surgical process. Their support and encouragement are invaluable to the patient’s care and recovery.

The surgical journey is fraught with fear, anxiety, and uncertainty for many patients. Surgeons live in this world and can often overlook how frightening this decision is for many. In this uncertainty, supportive family and friends are a pillar of strength, providing emotional support and reassurance. Having a support group is great for giving encouragement and listening to the anxiety of the one considering such a big decision as surgery.

Beyond emotional support, friends and family offer practical assistance, which is crucial to facilitate the surgical process. There are many logistics to consider and get your head around while grappling with the thought of the surgery itself. As my dad used to tell me, “It takes a lot to run a household.” As my wife and I raise four kids of our own, believe me, it is true! Try to think about all that running a household requires, from cooking, cleaning, laundry, and feeding your pets. Patients cannot do this after surgery, but a support group can help meet these logistical needs so the patient can focus on recovery.

Unfortunately, at times, in the healthcare setting, patients also need an advocate. It can be hard to communicate effectively with patients, whether on the extremely young or the old end of the spectrum. As much as I hate to say it, some things get lost in the clutter, information gets jumbled, and things slip through the cracks. Simply put, you sometimes need an advocate on your side to ensure these things don’t happen. Family and friends can help collaborate with healthcare professionals to make informed decisions regarding patient care and advocate what is best for them.

The support provided by family and friends does not end with surgery; some might say it is just the beginning. Physical therapy and rehab are crucial for a successful outcome in orthopedic surgery. In this phase of recovery, having someone to help with medicines, wound care and rehabilitation exercises is invaluable. Whether it’s preparing nutritious meals or picking up some Johnny’s Pizza, there is a sense of emotional encouragement that support systems provide. A meal train is so much more than just food. This support can accelerate the patient’s healing process and enhance their overall well-being.

Like the emotional support during the initial process of deciding to have surgery, there’s a significant emotional aspect to recovery. Surgery can take a flat-out toll on the patient. I can tell you that knee replacement is hard, the recovery is hard, and the physical therapy after surgery is hard. Patients can experience a myriad of emotions, not just of pain but of frustration and wanting to give up. Family and friends can serve as beacons of strength and positivity for these patients. They can help the patient cope with uncertainty, adapt to new challenges, and maintain a sense of optimism.

Considering the TV shows that seem to show off surgeons wielding scalpels and fancy medical technology, it’s easy to overlook the quiet yet profound contributions of a patient’s support network—truly the unsung heroes. These friends and family offer support, encouragement, and love. Their role in the surgical process is crucial; from emotional reassurance, practical assistance, and post-operative care, they, beyond a doubt, care for and shape patient experience and influence surgical outcomes. As we celebrate the advancements of modern medicine, whether it’s new approaches to hip replacement or robotic knee replacement, let’s not forget to acknowledge the vital contributions of our friends and family, whose presence helps pave the path to recovery for the countless patients undergoing surgery.

Jeffrey Pearson, M.D. is a fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon specializing in anterior total hip and robotic knee replacement. To schedule an appointment, visit https://orthopedicspecialistsla.com/ or call 318-635-3052.


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