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 - Northwestern Memorial Hospital - Chicago

Heart & Vascular

Learn more about the types of therapy provided by Rehabilitation Services during a hospital stay for patients who have undergone heart or vascular surgery, have had a heart transplant or a VAD implantation.

Cardiac Surgery

Following heart surgery, physical and occupational therapists will work with you to maximize your independence with mobility and self-care. Depending on the type of incision your heart surgeon used, you will have specific instructions to follow after surgery.

We will provide education to help you understand why you must be cautious during the recovery process. Physical therapy will focus on following precautions while carefully increasing activity and exercise to minimize pain and injury while you recover. Occupational therapy will focus on maintaining those precautions during self-care activities, including dressing and bathing.

Heart Transplant & VAD Implantation

Patients with heart failure who are no longer responding to medical therapy may require heart transplantation. Some patients receive a Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) while awaiting a transplant, and others who are not candidates for transplantation receive a VAD as a way to prolong their life and optimize their quality of life.

If you are recovering from either heart transplantation or VAD implantation, you will receive rehabilitation services as part of your recovery. Physical therapists will assist you with initial mobilization following the surgery and will start a walking program with you as soon as it is medically appropriate after surgery. Your therapist will educate you about how to safely and gradually increase your daily activities. Occupational Therapy will focus on conserving your energy and following precautions during self-care activities.

Vascular Surgery

Vascular surgery is performed to help manage disease of the arteries and veins. The types of vascular surgeries range from minimally-invasive to traditional surgical reconstruction of arteries to, in severe cases, amputation. Patients recovering from vascular surgery often have difficulty walking due to pain, weakness and decreased range of motion.

Physical therapists will train and educate you how to use assistive devices such as walkers, canes or crutches for mobility. In addition, they will develop an exercise program focused on regaining strength and range of motion of affected areas. If you are recovering from an amputation, physical therapy will focus on strengthening and stretching and will start educating you about mobility to prepare you for future use of a prosthetic limb. Occupational therapists will assist in your ability to perform self-care tasks.

Last UpdateMarch 25, 2011