Recovery (Convalescence)

Information on the Recovery Process from Surgery, Illness, and Injury.

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    1. What is Recovery (Convalescence)?
    2. What is Recovery (Convalescence) Like?
    3. Help for Recovery (Convalescence
    4. More Information on Recovery (Convalescence)

    What is Recovery (Convalescence)?

    The period of recovery from surgery, following a severe illness, or after injury is also referred to as convalescence. During this period, the body needs time to heal and adjust from the physical trauma experienced.

    Recovery is a gradual process and varies from person to person, depending on the type of surgery or injury. Recovery from surgery and injury is a period of rest, where regaining strength and becoming healthy is the primary objective. People often take this opportunity to gain new perspectives, reflect on their lives, and make certain lifestyle adjustments.

    While it may be important in some cases to get the patient up and moving around, recovery is a time during which the body undergoes a strengthening period which is essential in maintaining and improving future health, allowing for a full physical recovery from whatever trauma was inflicted on the body. Forcing oneself to return to full speed too soon can have serious consequences and compromise long-term health.

    What is Recovery (Convalescence) like?

    During recovery, the entire rehabilitation process can be long, challenging, and sometimes uncertain. Recovery time from physical injuries or surgery recovery can vary greatly, depending on many factors.

    Symptoms Experienced During Recovery (Convalescence)
    • Weakness and fatigue
    • Decreased appetite or loss of appetite
    • Pain
    • Poor circulation
    • Flabby, weak muscles
    • Poor concentration
    • Short-term memory loss and confusion
    • Dizziness
    • Fever
    • Infection
    • Delayed wound healing
    • Mental and emotional stress

    There are many physical challenges faced by the patient dealing with recovery from surgery, which include weakness, fatigue, chronic pain, and loss of appetite. The mental and emotional anguish associated with a long recovery can bring about feelings of anger, disappointment, hopelessness, and frustration.


    Factors that Affect Recovery (Convalescence) Duration
    • Older people take longer to recover from illnesses because their bodiesneed more time to heal.
    • Infections can delay healing, and things such as wounds not being cleaned properly, dressings not being changed regularly, or exposure to damp and cold all increase the risk of an infection developing.
    • Too much activity too quickly may contribute to a relapse.
    • Feelings of depression, anxiety, hopelessness, or frustration can slow the healing process.
    • People suffering from chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, or respiratory disease may experience a prolonged recovery time.
    • Other conditions such as a weak immune system, anemia, fatigue, or candidiasis may also contribute to slow injury or surgery recovery.

    For recovery to be truly successful, the patient has to have a positive, determined attitude and be surrounded by a team of dedicated health professionals and a supportive, caring group of family and friends. A team effort will help the patient achieve a rewarding, productive physical recovery and enable him or her to resume a normal life. To gain a better understanding of the recovery period, consult your physician about your expectations and fears. How long is recovery after surgery, illness, or injury estimated to take? Will you be able to recover completely and successfully? What does the future hold for you? Sometimes, full recovery from surgery may take several weeks to months.


    Help for Recovery (Convalescence)

    During recovery after a serious illness, the primary objective is for the patient to regain his or her physical strength and well-being. This is a period of transition for the recovering patient. It may be a positive time for some who are keen to recuperate while others may experience emotional trauma over their illness.

    Patients who have been hospitalized and are discharged may understandably feel confused and disoriented. However, there are a number of contributing factors that can improve the patient’s health and quality of life during physical recovery.

    Various Factors in Successful Recovery (Convalescence)
    • Follow Medical Advice
    • Ensure that you adhere to specific instructions left by your physician, because not following this advice could endanger your health once again. Take your medication regularly, attend follow-up and rehabilitation sessions, consult your physician about any problems, follow dietary requirements, and evaluate your priorities. If you are concerned that you are not receiving the medical help that you need, seek a second opinion, but do not simply stop treatment.

    • Nutrition
    • After a serious illness, it is quite common not to have an appetite. It is important that your body receives nourishment so that you can regain your strength and physical recovery. Eat foods that you enjoy and that are simple to digest like soups, crackers, juice, yogurt, steamed vegetables, fish, and fresh fruit.

    • Counseling and Therapy
    • Psychological intervention may be necessary to deal with emotional distress and improve the patient’s mood, depression, and anxiety about the illness. Feelings of guilt, denial and blame, as well as financial and social stressors can all add to the patient’s negative state of mind. The patient may experience fears and phobias about the illness, struggle to resume a normal life, or have to deal with a disability. Group therapy or relaxation training will help the patient maintain a positive outlook and help him or her to cope with the illness.

    • Physical Therapy (physiotherapy)
    • This is a vital part of recovery because it helps the patient rebuild his or her strength, become flexible, and gain endurance.

    • Acupuncture
    • Improves circulation of fluids such as blood, aids nerve function, and reduces stress levels.

    • Art Therapy
    • Patients can construct a meaningful narrative of the illness, and in this way express their emotions.

    • Aromatherapy Massage
    • The benefit of touch relaxes the body and mind, and facilitates open and honest communication.

    • Music Therapy
    • This type of therapy can help the patient cope with illness, develop stress management techniques, and address psychological issues.

    • Family Support

    Family members are often the primary caregivers during convalescence, and need all the support they can get to enable them to care for the patient well. Support may take the form of professional therapy but should also include practical support such as financial help, time out for their own rest and relaxation, as well as assistance with meals, household chores, etc.


    More Information on Recovery (Convalescence)

    Recovery Tips for Recovery (Convalescence)
    • Sufficient sleep and rest are essential to strengthening the immune system, rebuilding the nerves, and speeding the healing of injuries or recovery from surgery.
    • Eat a healthy diet of foods that you enjoy eating to stimulate the appetite and boost energy levels.
    • Gentle exercise such as slow, short walks strengthens the muscles, restores healthy circulation, strengthens the immune system and helps to prevent respiratory problems like pneumonia ( often associated with lengthy periods of bed rest). Start slowly and gradually increase the length and intensity of the exercise as your body recovers.
    • Reduce worry by focusing on other activities such as reading or watching a movie.
    • Practice deep breathing exercises to release stress and tension.
    • Learn to relax by listening to calming music or thinking of pleasant images.
    • Interaction with friends and family will increase your recovery.
    • Resume previous interests and hobbies, and try and get out of the house for short periods of time.