Before Your Surgery
Especially for those undergoing spinal fusion or other
forms of more extensive back surgery, it is beneficial to
arrange the home to make it as safe and convenient as
possible after surgery. The surgeon will often recommend
that the patient avoid bending over or lifting heavy objects
for several weeks or months following back surgery.
are several practical guidelines to help ease the transition
home following back surgery:
A toilet riser comes in handy for people who anticipate
difficulty getting on or off the toilet in the weeks after
surgery. It is a circular piece of molded plastic that is
about 8 inches high and fits securely on top of the existing
toilet seat. They are available from rehab supply stores and
with a prescription, may be covered by insurance.
Common items within easy reach
Place frequently used objects in a convenient location
within easy reach. For example, it may be beneficial to have
frequently used items such as dishes and pans in upper
cabinets to avoid having to bend over to reach for them in
the lower cabinets. Some patients find it easiest to have a
stack of paper plates and cups right on the counter, which
also helps to eliminate bending over to do the dishes in the
sink or loading/unloading the dishwasher.
On a similar note, many patients find it helpful to put all
toiletries, clothes and other frequently used items on
shelves or countertops within easy reach.
Reacher or grabber
A favorite item among patients who are restricted from
bending after surgery is a “reacher” or “grabber”. There are
several styles but all are light weight, hand held devices
with a grabber on the end. They are usually 2-3 feet long
and can pick up a pencil, sock, napkin, etc. quite easily.
Stores that sell rehab equipment stock them, but they are
also available (and may be lower cost) from larger
department stores, home-improvement stores, and pharmacies.
To avoid lengthy food preparation, some patients find it
helpful to stock their freezer and cupboards with prepared
meals and other healthy convenience foods that will save
them time and energy after surgery.
Slip on shoes
If bending needs to be avoided, buying slip-on shoes will
allow patients to avoid having to bend down to tie shoes.
As a general rule, for back surgeries that don’t involve
a fusion, re-establishing a normal range of motion can
accelerate the healing process, so using objects such as a
grabber to avoid bending and employing other techniques to
avoid movement may be detrimental. Strategies that help
eliminate bending are more appropriate for fusion surgeries.
Depending on the type of spine surgery, it may be a good
idea for the patient to plan to have someone stay over or
stop in frequently at least the first few days after coming
home from the hospital. Many patients will need help with
physical cares, light chores, errands and meal preparation.
For individuals who will require more extensive assistance,
home health care services can be ordered by the physician
and easily arranged before surgery or during the hospital