Learn What to Expect After Your Treatment
After any surgery or brain tumor treatment, it is not unusual to feel worse than you did before. Though this is temporary, it can be depressing.
Brain surgery is a lot for your body to cope with. Swelling in the brain after an operation means it will take some time before you feel the benefit from having your tumor removed. You may experience dizzy spells or get confused about where you are and what’s happening. These episodes can come and go and are a normal part of the recovery period.
For some people, recovery may be complete after a few weeks or months; for others, you may have to learn to adjust and manage permanent changes in your life including not being able to work or accomplish all of the tasks you did before. Your surgeon can give you some idea, but ask as many questions as you can about what to expect for your recovery.
Rehabilitating Physical Symptoms
People who experience a variety of physical symptoms including weakness, difficulty speaking, stiffness, problems with movement, etc. can benefit from various forms of rehabilitative treatment. Every person with a brain tumor deserves to function as optimally as possible, so patients should be evaluated for successful rehabilitation treatment.
Physical, occupational, and speech therapists are experts in this area – and ideally, you can work with professionals who are experienced in working with brain tumor patients and/or neurological disorders:
- Physical therapists help patients improve their walking, balance and strength. Some people experience permanent mobility problems. Physical or occupational therapists will provide exercises to support your range of motion and make sure your body has proper positioning to help decrease pain and freezing of the limb(s) as much as possible.
- Occupational therapists teach patients how to manage their side effects so that they can go about their lives and perform daily activities, such as cooking, writing, and driving.
- Speech therapists help people overcome problems understanding and producing language, as well as teach patients how to improve their speech process and adjust how they verbalize or otherwise express themselves. Speech therapists also help with eating and swallowing difficulties caused when there are oral motor problems.
If you need them, there are assistive devices and exercises that can be prescribed by rehabilitation specialists. Handrails, grab bars, and bath or shower chairs are some examples. There are also tools and tips to help with eating, dressing, maintaining computer access and independence. Keeping track of issues and talking regularly with rehabilitation specialists can help you get the support you need.
It is also useful to know about the federal and state programs that link people with services, technology, and funding. For example, the Americans with Disabilities Act helps people who experience a disability due to illness, like a brain tumor, but want to go back to work with reasonable accommodations.
Cognitive and Behavioral Changes
A brain tumor and its treatment(s) can cause changes in a person’s behavior and ability to think. Patients may experience difficulties with their communication, concentration, memory, and their personality may change.
These difficulties may affect a patient’s ability to work or go about his/her daily life, and they do not always go away. This can cause stress for both the patient and his or her family.
Medication may be prescribed to reduce problems with cognitive and behavioral changes, and counseling may help a patient recognize when they are experiencing cognitive problems.
More tools to cope with cognitive and behavioral changes include:
Cognitive rehabilitation is designed to help people regain as much of their mental, physical and emotional abilities as possible.
- Compensation techniques are methods to develop alternate skills to make up for those that have been lost, such as exercises to strengthen sight, speech, and movement. When full recovery is not possible, treatment includes compensation techniques like learning to live with memory loss by keeping calendars, reminder systems, and organizers. Neuropsychologists are cognitive experts that can help identify compensation solutions or suggest medications to enhance mental functioning (for example, Ritalin).
- Anger management training, counseling or medication can help a patient who experiences behavioral and personality changes such as impulsiveness, frustration, or moodiness.