A friend who just finished a two-week hospital stay after orthopedic surgery learned firsthand how much a patient can do to help-or occasionally hinder-recovery.

Take the simple act of breathing, for example. Pam Hagan, RN, notes that when patients are sedentary lung secretions may build up, resulting in pneumonia. Pam, a nurse for more than 25 years and the chief programs officer for the American Nurses Association (www.nursingworld.org), encourages patients to cough frequently and vigorously-even if they don't feel the need.

Some hospital patients are given an inspirometer to help with breathing. Request it if you're not given one. The deeper you breathe, the higher the ball in the inspirometer rises. Use it often-your lungs will thank you for it.

Pam also urges patients confined to bed to flex their feet, do ankle rotations and perform other simple exercises. Ask a nurse or a physical therapist for suggestions.

Other things you can do...

Want to Keep Reading?

Continue reading with a Health Confidential membership.

Sign up now Already have an account? Sign in