Anterolateral Thigh Free Flap Exercise and Advice Leaflet

Anterolateral Thigh Free Flap Exercise and Advice Leaflet
Head and Neck Cancer Services
Anterolateral
Thigh Free Flap
Physiotherapy Department
Lower Lane
Liverpool L9 7AL
Tel:0151-525-5980
Exercise and Advice Leaflet
•
What is an anterolateral thigh free
flap?
•
•
•
An anterolateral thigh (ALT) free flap is an
area of tissue and muscle that is taken
from the outer border of your thigh.
This is often used to reconstruct areas in
your mouth that require replacement
tissue following surgery for head and neck
cancer.
The flap is a living graft, which means that
the blood vessels in the flap are then
connected to the blood vessels in the
mouth.
Gentle exercise will also help to reduce
any swelling in the area and help prevent
hip and knee joint stiffness.
When can I start to walk?
•
We will try to get you out of bed and
sitting in a chair on the second day after
your operation and up walking on your
third day.
•
Initially you may find that you require a
walking frame, elbow crutches or walking
sticks to help you with your walking, which
will allow you to take some of the weight
off your affected leg. Your physiotherapist
will progress your walking on the ward
and monitor you regularly.
What are the risks an anterolateral
thigh free flap?
When can I start my exercises?
Like with any surgical procedure involving a
living graft, there is a risk that the blood
supply through the graft can fail. In order to
monitor this, nursing staff will regularly check
that the blood supply is good.
Most patients following an ALT free flap will
have a drain in place for 2-3 days to help
drain off any excess fluid following surgery. It
is best to start your exercises when this neck
drain has been removed.
Why should I exercise?
What exercises should I be doing?
•
•
•
Following your ALT free flap it is important
that you start to exercise your hip and
knee in order for you to regain full
movement.
General exercises for your ankle are also
encouraged.
You may find that your hip and knee
movements are restricted after surgery
but this is often due to the bandaging,
swelling and the position of any drains in
your leg.
Leaflet Name: Anterolateral Thigh Free Flap
Leaflet Lead Name: Barry Scott
Date Leaflet Developed: March 2007
Following an ALT free flap, most patients
benefit from simple exercises to keep your
hip, knee and ankle joints moving. As
Physiotherapists we encourage you to start
with four simple exercises;
Date Leaflet Approved: March 2008
Review Date: March 2010
Version No: 1
Page 1 of 3
Ref: 308
How often should I do these
exercises?
It is always best to do ‘little and often’ rather
than lots of exercises at one time. Exercising
twice a day for between five and ten minutes
is recommended. Your Physiotherapist will be
able to advise you on exactly what you
should be doing.
1. While sitting, pull your toes towards you so
you feel a stretch at the back of your calf and
then straighten your knee. Hold this for
several seconds then relax. Repeat with each
leg.
How will I know if I have done too
much?
If you over exercise you may well feel sore
and stiff the following day. The best policy is
to avoid this if possible making sure you
exercise gently and slowly.
Further information.
2. While lying on your back in bed, bend and
straighten your leg. Repeat with each leg.
For any further information feel free to
contact your Physiotherapist,
Barry Scott, Senior 1 Physiotherapist
Tel: 0151 525 5980 and ask for Bleep 3335
Or;
0151 529 5195 (Ward 29)
0151 529 5239 (Ward 28)
3. While lying on your back or sitting, bend
and straighten your ankles as far as you can.
If you keep your knees straight during this
exercise you will stretch your calf muscles.
www.headandneckcancer.co.uk
Merseyside Regional Head and Neck Cancer
Centre
www.csp.org.uk
The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy
Pictures courtesy of © Physio Tools Ltd Version 3.0
4. Stand straight holding on to a chair. Bring
your leg backwards keeping your knee
straight. Do not lean forwards.
Leaflet Name: Anterolateral Thigh Free Flap
Leaflet Lead Name: Barry Scott
Date Leaflet Developed: March 2007
Date Leaflet Approved: March 2008
Review Date: March 2010
Version No: 1
Page 2 of 3
Ref: 308
Aintree University Hospitals NHS Foundation
Trust is not responsible for the content of any
material referenced in this leaflet that has not
been produced and approved by the Trust.
If you require a special edition of
this leaflet
This leaflet is available in large print, Braille,
on audio tape or disk and in other languages
on request. Please contact Customer
Services on:
Telephone
0151
529 3287
Textphone
0151
529 2523
Fax
0151
529 2019
[for the hearing impaired]
Leaflet Name: Anterolateral Thigh Free Flap
Leaflet Lead Name: Barry Scott
Date Leaflet Developed: March 2007
Date Leaflet Approved: March 2008
Review Date: March 2010
Version No: 1
Page 3 of 3
Ref: 308
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