Pre-habilitation, or prehab, prior to arthroplasty (joint replacements) or any orthopedic surgery is the new emerging standard practice of care. Prehab is when a patient participates in physical therapy for general (or joint specific) strength and conditioning prior to a surgical procedure in order to improve the outcomes of the surgery as well as reduce recovery time. There can be many complications following a surgery such as having strict precautions against certain movements, or even a no-weight bearing precaution. Things such as these lead the body and its muscles to decline rapidly and can pose a problem down the line such as fatigue and chronic pain.
Additionally, the condition of the body’s cardiopulmonary system can be a limiting factor to a quick and healthy recovery. Many patients who have a weakened cardiopulmonary system, or have comorbidities may have a more difficult and longer journey back to health following surgeries. This is specifically true for those procedures that require anesthesia, long term bed rest, or even immobilization of a whole body part. Luckily, these complications can be lessened prior to surgery through conditioning during prehab in PT.
A study by Topp et all in 2002 found that patients who underwent an exercise program prior to surgery healed faster and with less post-op complications than those patients who only remained sedentary (inactive) prior to their surgery. Another publication by Mina et al in 2013 states that patients who participated in prehab had a shorter length of stay in the hospital following their surgery (saving money), lower pain ratings, and reported a better quality of life after the surgical procedure.
Imagine this, you have never been active and you get a knee replacement, and after that you are referred from your doctor to PT where you will be progressively exercising and learning how to do many things again. This can sound scary for someone who has never exercised or been active right? Well, that’s why pre-hab is a wonderful option for you! You get a chance to work, load your muscles, and learn about your body’s tissues in a way you have not before, setting you up for success following your surgery!
Prehab creates good long term exercise habits and knowledge about your body’s ability to build up strong and recover from any insult to its tissues and functions. This is a chance to get to know what rehab will look like. It is a time to ask questions, become educated, and greatly reduce any worries you are having prior to the “big day”. It also gives you a great physical jump-start to your actual rehab in physical therapy after the procedure!
Sound like a plan? Great! Come see us at Hohman Rehab and we will set you up for success!