Posted on 30 July, 2013

This post is by Rosie Day, PNG cardiac team physiotherapist

Rosie helping a patient walk 1 day after surgeryRosie with our first patient who is walking around the hospital 2 days after surgery

As the physiotherapist I do have the best job on the team. While to most it would appear that I am just playing games, each game has a therapeutic purpose. After surgery due to the effect of anaesthesia and pain, patients do not breath deep enough and do not want to cough. The lungs need to be cleared to avoid post-op chest infections.

So how do we do this with kids, and what’s in a physio’s trick-bag?! Well the most important thing, is to turn it into games and make it fun!

Bubbles are the most important, they can be used to have the children take deep breaths by blowing. The kids can catch the bubbles which encourages upper limb movement and therefore deep breathing. I also have a supply of party blowers, recorders, and windmills, which all encourage big breaths

I also have Balloons – while often too hard for the patient to blow up are great for encouraging arm movement and ‘balloon tennis’ is great activity, and of course balls in all shapes and sizes. Once the kids are up and walking we will pay all sorts of ball games to encourage activity

The adult patients seem to enjoy the games too rather than just deep breathing and coughing exercises. Our first two patients operated on are now walking easily round the ward only two days after open heart surgery. Children will be blowing bubbles in intensive care within the hour after their breathing tube is removed. The recovery is so quick and the families so grateful that it makes it very rewarding work.

Rosie and the local physios

I have been lucky to be on a few trips with OHI. Apart from working directly with cardiac patients, I’ve been assisting some of the local hospital patients she has also been educating the local physiotherapists and running workshops for them.

Renagi playing after surgery