Magazine article USA TODAY

Guided Imagery Speeds Surgical Recovery

Magazine article USA TODAY

Guided Imagery Speeds Surgical Recovery

Article excerpt

A relaxation technique called guided imagery helps to reduce pain and anxiety, making surgical patients feel better and heal quicker. In this low-cost, low-tech procedure, patients are guided to create relaxing images of a special place," in their minds to help them overcome the stress and anxiety that often accompany illness. They listen to audio cassettes designed to foster relaxation, help focus concentration, and relieve apprehensions about surgery and recovery.

"Most patients facing surgery are frightened. They feel alone and often believe they've lost control of their own lives," explains Diane L. Tusek, research coordinator of the guided imagery clinical trial. "Guided imagery helps walk them through their fears, so they no longer feel alone. They regain a needed sense of control and take an active role in their own care, which clearly has a dramatic impact on healing."

Half of 130 colorectal patients at the Cleveland Clinic Department of Colorectal Surgery received guided imagery instruction: the other half, standard preoperative care only. Guided imagery patients listened to audio cassettes combining vocal instruction and soothing music twice daily for three days prior to surgery. A music-only tape was played in the preoperative holding area and immediately following surgery in the operating room. For six days after surgery, they listened to tapes including positive suggestions about surgical outcomes. …

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