Strengthening the Brain-Body Connection Before Surgery

Published On - 30 May, 2023By Alina Butunoi

The Importance of Strengthening the Brain-Body Connection Before Surgery

Up to 50% of patients over 60 experience cognitive decline after surgery. Not only can surgery take a toll on your body, but it can also impact your cognitive function. This can slow down how fast your brain sends signals to your body.

But there’s a way to reduce this risk and improve your brain function after surgery: brain training. Brain training strengthens the connection between your brain and body before surgery. It rewires your brain after surgery to help you recover quicker.

This article will explore why brain training is essential for surgery preparation and recovery. We’ll also discuss how Align For Performance can help you with our unique pre- and post-surgical brain training approach.

Keep reading to learn how brain training can help you prepare for surgery and recover better.

Brain Training for Surgical Patients

Up to this point, you’ve been preparing your physical body for surgery. But surgical preparation takes as much physical prep as it does mental.

Research suggests that your brain plays a crucial role in your surgical outcomes. Post-surgical cognitive decline is a real possibility. Aside from impacting your brain’s abilities, it can affect how well your body recovers.

There’s growing evidence that brain training can help reduce cognitive decline risk.

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center published a recent study on brain training. The study investigated the effects of brain training games on heart surgery recovery. Researchers divided patients into two groups:

  1. Control: Did not engage in brain training
  2. Variable: Played brain training games 20 minutes daily

The results were astounding. Those who played up to 10 hours of brain training games cut their postoperative delirium risk in half. The variable group also had:

  • Better cognitive function
  • Shorter hospital stays
  • Fewer postoperative

Research like this shows that brain training may be a promising tool to improve surgical recovery. They may help you recover and return to normal faster than you’d imagined.

How Brain Training Works

The brain is your body’s control center. Your brain is at the driver’s wheel, from picking up a pencil to breathing. It sends both intentional and passive messages to make your body function.

Surgery severs communication between your brain and your body. But your body is smart. You can reforge the connections in recovery.

Often, the task of reforging those connections falls upon your physical therapist. Depending on the severity of your surgery, it could take weeks or years to regain function.

But, fostering a stronger brain-body connection can help you regain function faster. That’s where we recommend incorporating brain training exercises.

Brain training involves targeted mental exercises and activities. It’s designed to improve communication and coordination between your brain and body.

Practicing specific cognitive and physical tasks can strengthen your neural pathways. Strong pathways enhance your brain’s ability to control and regulate functions like:

  • Body movements
  • Physical sensations
  • Emotions

Brain training isn’t a magic fix for post-surgical recovery. Different risk levels and types of surgeries have different rehabilitation expectations.

Recovery will always be a journey with plenty of divots and turns. But brain training sets you up for greater success along the way.

At Align For Performance, we offer a unique pre-surgical brain training approach. Based on the latest research in neuroplasticity, it combines cognitive and physical exercises tailored to your needs. It solidifies your brain-body connection for better surgical outcomes and well-being.

How to Foster Your Brain-Body Connection

Brain training can be a lot like training a muscle. When you exercise on a regular schedule, your muscles grow. Similarly, when you practice brain training, your brain-body connection grows.

But where do you begin? How do you know what brain training exercises will set you up for success? The best way to understand how to begin brain training for surgery is to speak to a professional.

There is so much information about brain training online. Pushing through the noise and seeking a tailored approach will optimize your results. Here are some things you can expect from your professional brain training regimen.

Threats Modulation

Stress and anxiety associated with surgery can activate the body’s natural “fight or flight” response. This high-stress response interferes with the brain’s ability to function at its best.

In particular, it impairs the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve regulates many body functions, like heart rate, respiratory rate, and digestion. If your parasympathetic nervous system experiences fight or flight, you may experience:

  • Impaired cognitive function
  • Dysregulated emotions
  • Compromised immune system

This response is natural and normal. But it can also increase complications and slow down rehabilitation. Your brain training plan can help reduce your body’s reaction to such stress.

Threats modulation is the process of regulating the body’s response to perceived threats or stressors. Modulating or regulating the body’s response can reduce the impact of surgery-related stress.

Brain training can help modulate threats in several ways. Mindfulness-based practices can help to calm the mind and reduce anxiety. Other brain training exercises, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can change negative thought patterns.

Breathing Techniques

Breath is a powerful tool that can help us regulate our nervous system, calm our minds, and connect with our bodies. Breathing techniques promote relaxation and calmness. They can be instrumental as a pain management strategy.

Popular breathing exercises include:

  • Deep breathing
  • Diaphragmatic breathing
  • Alternate nostril breathing

These brain training activities improve your breathing patterns and reduce your stress levels.

Physical Exercises

Brain training also involves physical exercise focusing on balance, coordination, and mobility. These can help you regain strength and flexibility and improve your posture and gait. Align for Performance physical exercises include:

  • Movement neurology
  • Sports coaching
  • Modern strength training
  • Targeted joint mobility training

You can augment these professional exercises with yoga, tai chi, or meditation. A holistic approach helps reduce anxiety, improve mood, and promote relaxation and well-being.

At Align For Performance, we offer a range of brain training exercises and programs designed to support surgical recovery. By investing in your brain health and resilience, you can not only improve your surgical outcomes but also enhance your quality of life.

Train Today for a Faster Recovery

The benefits of brain training before surgery are undeniable. Patients who take the initiative to improve their brain-body connection before surgery see the best results. They experience improved cognitive function, faster recovery times, and better health outcomes.

Whether your surgery is in a month or a year, you can start brain training now. The more you commit to it, the better you’ll feel after surgery. Get started on this vital surgical preparation step with Align for Performance.

Our brain training experts curate personalized programs for every client. Book an appointment today to take charge of your health!

About Author

Alina Butunoi

Alina Butunoi is one of Ottawa's most respected brain training and pain management practitioners. A previous nominee for the Ottawa 40 Under 40 business leaders, she is also a certified Movement Neurology Specialist with Z-Health, a cutting-edge neuro-exercise system that helps improve health, alleviate pain and maximize athletic performance.

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