Prehab – The Role of Exercise Before Surgery

Prehab – The Role of Exercise Before Surgery

If you or someone you know is preparing for an upcoming surgery, the information you are about to read can be very useful. Most individuals are familiar with the thought of rehabilitation after surgery, but a trend that is becoming popular is the idea of pre-surgical rehabilitation.

Often, there is a period of waiting involved prior to any surgery. This time is valuable, and it can be utilized to prepare the body prior to surgery and facilitate a better outcome after the surgery. When muscles, bones and joints are in optimum condition before a surgery, the impact of the inevitable muscle loss and joint stiffness after surgery is minimized. Essentially, the stronger a person is going into surgery, the better the chances of an easier and faster recovery after the surgery.

Individuals who participate in a pre-surgical rehabilitation program tend to regain full function and return to their daily lives faster than individuals who do not participate in pre-surgical rehabilitation. Traditionally, a physical therapist helps with post-surgical rehabilitation, but you may be surprised to learn that the therapist can also be your biggest ally during the ‘pre-hab’ process.

Pre-Surgical Rehabilitation 101
It is common for the region that is about to be operated on to be inflamed and weak. With a carefully planned exercise routine, a physical therapist can help reduce inflammation and improve blood circulation in the affected area. This improves mobility and helps with pain relief. This also helps to promote correct movement patterns and minimize compensatory movements like leaning and uneven weight bearing.
Improving health and fitness, and being in optimal physical health can go a long way towards the facilitation of post-operative recovery. These are some simple guidelines to follow with a pre-surgical rehabilitation program:

• Start the program at least six weeks before the surgery date to gain the most benefit

• Start slowly. This is not the time to aggravate an existing issue or create a new one

• If you are already physically fit, consider increasing your intensity, frequency, or duration as long as it doesn’t interfere with your current injury.

• Yoga is an excellent way to prepare both the mind and body for surgery. The combination of relaxation and soothing movements can be beneficial before and after surgery.

One of the requirements for discharge after surgery is that a patient is able to complete certain activities. Your physical therapist, along with the surgeon, will collaborate on goals after surgery. For example, you may be expected to walk a certain number of steps or climb stairs. Once this pre-requisite is met, you can start a home exercise program. Patients who are prepared physically for surgery can leave the hospital sooner and are likely to suffer fewer complications.

Physical Therapy and Pre-hab
A consultation with your physical therapist will involve an evaluation to determine:
• Muscle and joint strength
• Ability to move and perform day-to-day-day tasks (stair climbing, getting in and out of bed)
• Amount of assistance needed from friends and family members

By working with a physical therapist prior to surgery and creating a pre-surgery rehabilitation plan, you will create a strong foundation for rapid recovery. Similar to the post-surgical collaboration, you can expect your physical therapist to work closely with your doctors to get you on the road to recovery even before you have surgery.
The physical therapist will help you familiarize yourself with walking aides and other supportive devices like crutches, walkers, or canes should they be needed. You will discover the importance of breathing, proper techniques and range of motion of important exercises that you’ll be doing after the surgery. This will reduce the stress and apprehension associated with discharge and can facilitate independence.  As your physical therapists, we are committed to keeping you as healthy as possible. If you or someone you know is considering surgery, schedule a consultation with us. ‘Pre-hab’ is a great way to speed up rehab.

For more information, give us a call today