Hospital  >  Patients & Visitors  >  About your hospital stay  >  Surgical Services  >  Brain Health After Surgery

Brain Health After Surgery

Clinical research

Clinical trials are a way for us to develop new information and try to provide better care. Trials may involve gathering information on how you do after surgery or test if new treatments are better than existing ones. Together with patients, this allows us to find better ways to treat and care for patients. You may be approached by a member of the research staff before or after your surgery to see if you would like to take part in one or more research studies. All studies at Sunnybrook are voluntary, which means you can choose whether or not you would like to participate. People participate in clinical trials for many reasons. Although the research may not directly benefit you, your contribution could lead to better outcomes in future patients.

We invite you to read more about currently recruiting research studies on our Perioperative Brain Health Centre website or learn more about clinical research studies in the department of anesthesia.

The Perioperative Brain Health Centre (PBHC)

PBHC is a special group at Sunnybrook that aims to find the causes and cures for cognitive changes after surgery. Timely detection of these changes can help to diagnose and initiate increased supervision and help for at risk patients. For more information and resources related to brain health before and after surgery, refer to the PBHC website at

Preventing cognitive changes after surgery

Some patients may experience cognitive changes after surgery and anesthesia. Two common changes that can occur after surgery are postoperative delirium (POD) and postoperative neurocognitive disorder (P-NCD). POD is a temporary state of mental confusion that can include changes in thinking, an inability to focus, restless behavior and hallucinations in the first few days after surgery. P-NCD is when a patient’s memory and thinking abilities decline and do not return to normal after surgery. Both conditions commonly occur in older individuals after surgery, although they can affect anyone, and symptoms can range from mild to severe.

What can you do to prevent POD and P-NCD?

Before your surgery:

After your surgery:

  • Keep your mind active  read, play games, talk to family and friends.
  • Keep your body active – ask your healthcare team about exercises you can try, including moving your arms and legs while in bed and taking short walks around your home.
  • Maintain healthy hearing and vision – use hearing aids and glasses as needed.
  • Stay organized – take medications on time and use a calendar or clock to stay oriented.
  • Maintain rest and sleep routines.
  • Follow a healthy diet and stay hydrated.
  • Communicate with your healthcare team about any pain.