There are several low-intensity exercises a patient can usually perform after surgery to prevent muscle atrophy, such as arm lifts, leg lifts and thigh-squeezes, according to healthresource4u. Equipment to help patients exercise during recovery are available for some bedridden patients.
A bedridden patient may experience atrophy of the muscles when muscle groups are unused, leading to their shortening and weakening, explains healthresource4u. Patients can perform arm lifts by lifting one arm as high as possible, and holding it for 30 seconds, before repeating with the other arm. Modify this exercise by holding the arm overhead for a shorter time, or by settling the upper arm on a flat surface and lifting the elbow at a 90-degree angle. To work out the legs, begin by resting both legs flat on the bed. Then lift one leg up at a time, while keeping it straight and holding the lift for 10 to 20 seconds.
A patient may also perform thigh-muscle building exercise, writes healthresource4u. To do these, lie back with legs drawn together and a towel or pillow tucked in between the knees. Squeeze the pillow or towel with the knees and hold this position for 10 seconds. Repeat this process of squeezing and resting.