Yet another news story has been released showing the various ways guided imagery helps patients recover in the health care field. While returning soldiers are now being given guided imagery sessions to PTSD, Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth, Minnesota is now offering this tool to help patients recover from surgery.
As the Duluth News Tribune reports, the hospital has been providing Playaways guided imagery audiobooks to patients before and after surgery since January 2012 and Donna Anderson, a nurse practictioner responsible for the implementation of the program, reports significant and positive results.
She finds that bariatric patients using the guided imagery have shorter stays in the hospital with lower reported pain scores and requiring less IV narcotics for pain. Orthopedic patients, on the other hand, need less pain medication after surgery.
The newspaper discusses Jim Pohl, a 67-year-old patient at the hospital undergoing knee replacement surgery who used the program before and after his operation. Pohl returned home after a short stay of only 2 days in the hospital and said, “I had the medications and I had the guided imagery, and I chose the guided imagery, and for me it worked.”
The devices given to patients are Playaways, which are optional for patients. Out of the 859 joint replacement surgeries that took place at the hospital in less than 6 months in 2012, 700 patients chose to use the device while 90% of bariatric patients turned to guided imagery to help them recover.
Patients receive a 7″x5″ plastic case with an audiobook and earbuds and they’re encouraged to listen to the program each morning and evening before the surgery, bring it with them while they’re preparing and use it during recovery and once they return home. The audiobook includes gentle music and nature sounds with a voice guiding the listener to relax and breathe deeply for nearly twenty minutes.
Anderson herself used guided imagery as both a patient and nurse and suggested the program to the vice president of surgical services at the hospital and explained it was already being used at the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic, among others, and showed the research behind the concept. She cited as proof one study conducted in 2007 by Blue Shield of California and published in Advances of Mind-Body Medicine. The authors of the study found guided imagery significantly reduces anxiety and increases satisfaction for patients and results in less medication costs, reduced hospital stays and a savings of just over $2,000 per procedure on average.
The program began at the hospital in neurosurgery and eventually moved to other departments with cardiothoracic surgery patients soon to receive the Playaways. The focus on the program, according to Anderson, is improving patient satisfaction while helping with pain management. She says that, after death, most patients fear surgery the most as it’s a complete loss of control and that’s one way for guided imagery to help patients as they face this major challenge in life.
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