#PTonICE Daily Show – Monday, February 5th, 2024 – Non-exercise topics for early post-op care

In today’s episode of the PT on ICE Daily Show, #ICEPelvic division leader Alexis Morgan discusses the essential, yet often overlooked as aspect of early postoperative care. Alexis explores the wide range of concerns and adjustments individuals face postoperatively beyond the usual need for return to exercise. From emotional and mental health needs to navigating the logistics of daily life, we share valuable insights on how to care for individuals early postoperatively. Save this podcast and share it with your communities to educate them, and let them know what an early postop visit with you might would look like too!

Take a listen to learn how to better serve this population of patients & athletes or check out the full show notes on our blog at www.ptonice.com/blog.

If you’re looking to learn more about our live pregnancy and postpartum physical therapy courses or our online physical therapy courses, check our entire list of continuing education courses for physical therapy including our physical therapy certifications by checking out our website. Don’t forget about all of our FREE eBooks, prebuilt workshops, free CEUs, and other physical therapy continuing education on our Resources tab.

Are you looking for more information on how to keep lifting weights while pregnant? Check out the ICE Pelvic bi-weekly newsletter!


Hey everyone, this is Alan. Chief Operating Officer here at ICE. Before we get started with today’s episode, I want to talk to you about VersaLifts. Today’s episode is brought to you by VersaLifts. Best known for their heel lift shoe inserts, VersaLifts has been a leading innovator in bringing simple but highly effective rehab tools to the market. If you have clients with stiff ankles, Achilles tendinopathy, or basic skeletal structure limitations keeping them from squatting with proper form and good depth, a little heel lift can make a huge difference. VersaLifts heel lifts are available in three different sizes and all of them add an additional half inch of drop to any training shoe, helping athletes squat deeper with better form. Visit www.vlifts.com/icephysio or click the link in today’s show notes to get your VersaLifts today.

Good morning, YouTube. Get Instagram going here. Good morning. Welcome to the PT on Ice Daily Show. Happy Monday. My name is Dr. Alexis Morgan, and I am one of the faculty with Ice Pelvic. In our pelvic division, we enjoy talking about all things around exercise. And, you know, if you are part of ICE, you know that and understand that. But sometimes our reputation scares people. It might scare our community like, oh, that’s the exercise person. They’re definitely going to make me exercise immediately. Today’s topic is surrounding non-exercise topics for that early post-op care. non-exercise topics for the early post-op care. This is incredibly important, maybe because of the reputation that you have in your community, which if you have that, great, so do I. Awesome reputation to have. However, we need our potential patients, we need our clients, we need them to understand a lot of the things that we can do early post-operatively that don’t necessarily involve exercise. And that’s not just to get them in the door, but that’s also because there’s a huge role that we play in early post-op management. Now I’m discussing this with the lens of early post-op post C-section or post-op post hysterectomy or any of these post hernia surgery, any kind of core and or pelvic floor, pelvis type of surgery. That’s the lens that I’m going to be discussing this in. However, I will say this is going to be in many of these cases pertaining to really post-op, any surgeries. And we’ve had a couple of great podcasts on this topic. And Lindsey Hughey has one that comes right to mind on things that we can do to educate to reduce inflammation postoperatively. But I’m going to add a couple other things to that list. So let’s go ahead and jump right into those.

So number one, we need to be assessing vital signs. This is incredibly important in the postpartum period as maternal death rates are actually increasing in America. And for black women, maternal death rates are three times the rate as white women. Many of these are because of some type of cardiovascular event. We have got to check blood pressures. And in many cases, we as the conservative care providers, those physical therapists or rehab providers, we’re some of the only ones that are checking postpartum. Or we might be able to catch something very soon before they might have a six or eight or 12 week follow-up postpartum. we’ve got to be checking their vital signs and assessing and making certain calls when necessary. That is absolutely important and definitely not exercise related at all. We can get them in and get their blood pressures checked.

Additionally, we, we assess sutures or incision sites or whatever whether that was an abdominoplasty where they have an incision from ASIS to ASIS, whether that is a C-section incision, a little bit smaller, more midline, or that might be smaller little incisions all throughout the belly from some type of laparoscopic surgery. Whatever the case, We, as their rehab providers, assess that incision. We’re gonna look for signs of infection and we’re also educating about those signs of infection. We’re assessing to see how the patient feels about it. Maybe we need to set some expectations surrounding what the C-section scar or what any of these scars are going to look like in a month and in six months. And with that, we can go ahead and begin some scar mobilizations. Now, very early postpartum, we’re still in the proliferation phase, inflammation, then proliferation, and then maturation. We’re still in that proliferation phase, so we’re not gonna be doing scar mobilization on the actual scar, but we can come inches above and below and surrounding. We can teach them how to pull on their skin and press on their skin well away from the scar to go ahead and begin that desensitization. That is incredibly valuable. And just going ahead and painting the picture of what that scar rehab is going to look like over the next three to four months. Many individuals have a lot of fear and concerns surrounding the scar. And we are the best people to be giving them home exercise program, these interventions and helping them understand what it’s going to look like. We know we’re the rehab providers that have seen this all along the way in several other of our patients. So we can help them understand what to expect and If there’s concerns where we need to refer to a mental health provider, then we’re absolutely going to do that. That is completely within our realm to assess that and to refer out. And what a great opportunity to help someone. Body image is rather difficult. It always has been, but with social media and the way the world that we live in right now, It is incredibly difficult. And so we need a lot of times mental health providers to help us navigate that. So first we talked about vital signs. Now talking about sutures, we can absolutely discuss fueling. That’s the podcast I mentioned with Lindsay Huey, so I won’t jump into that necessarily.

But next is ADLs. I was just looking through my messages, some screenshots that I’ve saved from various, um, various people who have messaged me about, um, pelvic floor related topics. And what I saw was this message from someone who said, I just went to my, uh, follow-up and they told me not to lift any weight. And the person asked, can I lift my baby? And they said, no. Now, obviously this is hopefully a one-off. Hopefully that word is not being said. And who actually, I don’t know if the doctor actually said that, but the point is, is that this individual did think that that’s what the doctor said. We are here to help them understand how can they be safe? How can they hold their baby? How can they get out of bed? How can they bend over and get the clothes out of the dryer, out of the washer? We can help them navigate these things. This is a great opportunity for occupational therapists as well. We can lean into their expertise here. Helping individuals with these ADLs can be really valuable for these individuals and can help them feel more confident in their body in that early postpartum period. Sometimes they just need to share their story. I think a lot of times we as rehab providers really feel this urge to do, do, do, put hands on, give home exercise program. I need you to do all three of these. We feel like so rushed in order to provide and sometimes The best thing that we can provide is a listening ear, is someone to be someone who can just ask questions about their surgery, about how they felt, about how they felt going into that and how they felt coming out of it. That can be incredibly helpful.

While we’re talking about non-exercise plans, I said that we wouldn’t be doing exercise, but I didn’t say that we wouldn’t be talking about it. So when we have someone early postpartum, they might be an exerciser and they might be saying, oh, I’m not ready for exercise just yet. Well, that’s okay. Let’s talk about what does exercise mean to you? What does readiness look like to you? What do you want and what are your timeline expectations? And do they match up with what we have seen or what we expect? Having a conversation about an exercise plan and exercise expectations can be incredibly helpful. Some people may not understand that they can go ahead and start to move now. and they think exercise is any type of movement, and we can kind of break that down. We can discuss different exercises that individuals can do or that this person in front of us can do in this early time, like walking or some basic hip exercises or arm exercises. A lot of times there’s several restrictions surrounding surgeries. But just because there’s restrictions doesn’t mean that there has to be zero exercise. So we can discuss that plan and kind of help them understand what that overarching picture of exercise and health looks like. I already mentioned one referral, but there are several other referrals that we can also make. So in the postpartum realm, referring back to their provider, their OB or their midwife. We can refer to a lactation consultant, to mental health providers. Postpartum doulas are another great referral source, particularly for people who are postpartum and maybe don’t have a lot of family nearby. There are so many ways in which we can help people and We don’t hold the keys to everything. I can’t help with mental health. I can listen, but I don’t have all of the tools, but I can absolutely refer to somebody who does. And together we can work to get this person in front of us feeling really good.

So vital signs, checking the sutures or those incision sites, discussing fueling, helping them with their activities of daily living, their ADLs, listening to them, listening to their story, figuring out an exercise plan and referring out. The last thing I’ll just mention here with pelvic floor and particularly with postpartum, we’re gonna discuss with them expectations surrounding those. That’s a whole nother podcast for another day, but discussing the expectations surrounding bleeding postpartum, leaking heaviness and pain and giving them what to listen to when we say, listen to your body, giving them a key to understanding what that exactly means. That way, once again, they can be successful. So that’s just a little sneak peek into a whole lot of what you’re going to learn if you take our online level one course. Our next cohort for our online level one starts March 5 so upcoming in one month at the beginning of March. It is going to sell out, just like this current cohort did so if you’re on the fence about it, I recommend going ahead and purchasing that ticket because. If you wait too long, you’re not going to get a seat. And we are very strict on keeping our student to faculty ratio at an appropriate level. That way you get your questions answered and you get the care that you need as you’re learning from us in the course. So sign up for that. And we also have our first online level two course coming up at the very end of April. And so you’re not going to miss that. Once again, that is definitely going to sell out. We are still months away from that, but only a few few seats remain for that. We’re going to shut that one down pretty soon. So if you’re on the fence about the online level to go ahead and sign up for that one. We are all over the place in twenty twenty four. Our next upcoming cohorts. for our live course. We’re going to be in California, North Dakota, South Carolina, and Colorado. Those are our upcoming next courses, all in March and April. So be sure to check us out on the road. And remember, when you do all three of these courses, you are eligible for the ICE certification certified in pelvic. We are here to change the game when it comes to pelvic floor health and pelvic floor rehab. And we need more of you. So please consider hopping on the train, coming to our courses. We know you’re going to have a great time. Thanks for being here this morning and listening with me. Have a great rest of your day and we’ll catch you next time.

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