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 Guided Imagery for Surgery and Pain Management

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PostSubject: Guided Imagery for Surgery and Pain Management   Thu May 31, 2012 8:19 pm

The Cleveland Clinic has a guided imagery station on all the televisions I saw, and has done studies on it's effectiveness. I was given a CD several weeks prior to surgery. It was divided into three sections; preparing for surgery, the day of surgery, and following surgery. I'm actually still listening to it. They say it doesn't matter if you're awake or asleep, so I play it before I go to bed at night. It helps me relax and I usually doze off before it ends. I was so calm through the entire process and my recovery has been amazing, so I thought I'd share. I found the best explanation at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock website & provided excerpts below:

"Guided imagery has been described by some as a "focused daydream" and is based on the assumption that your mind can affect your psychological and physical states. The theory is that as far as your brain is concerned, visualizing something and actually doing it are the same thing, both capable of having a direct effect on your nervous and endocrine systems. For example, if you picture yourself lounging on a warm beach (assuming this is a pleasant image for you), your muscles will relax and your skin will feel warmer. Likewise, imagining yourself recuperating quickly and effortlessly from surgery may lead to healing faster and with less pain.

The brain's visual cortex, which processes images, has a powerful connection with the autonomic nervous system that controls unconscious body functions such as pulse, breathing, digestion, smooth muscle tension, and pain perception. Positive, comforting images can actually slow your pulse and breathing, lower your blood pressure, as well as trigger the release of endorphins, the hormones that make you feel good."

"There is no certification or licensing for practitioners of guided imagery, although many people who offer guided imagery training are licensed psychotherapists, nurses, physical or massage therapists. Also, many people learn the technique from books and tapes.

Sessions taught by a practitioner usually run from 30 to 90 minutes, and involve you being asked to consider images that make you feel confident and secure - your favorite vacation spots, times of year, experiences that have made you feel relaxed, etc. The practitioner typically leads you through a breathing or relaxation exercise first, then guides you through a visualization, asking you to use all your senses to focus on a special place where you usually feel happy and calm.

The imagery process can also help you clarify beliefs and expectations that may affect the outcome of your surgery and recovery. This form of imagery can be very empowering for patients and effective in mobilizing the body's natural capacity for healing. By learning how to recognize and re-think unhealthy beliefs, perceptions, and emotions, and by visualizing your healing, you can place yourself in the best position for a good surgical outcome.

If you are preparing for surgery, it is recommended that you listen to a guided imagery tape or attend a class well before your surgery date. Listen to the tape or practice the technique twice a day. There is an incremental increase in benefit over time, so learning the technique several weeks before surgery is ideal. With practice, you should be able to bring up these healing images quickly, in any setting."

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