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  • Dr. Justin Murray, PT

Pre-hab can improve surgical outcomes

Rehabilitation, which refers to restoring one’s health after an injury or surgery, is a term that most people are familiar with. However, prehabilitation or “pre-hab” is a newer trend in physical therapy that may be unfamiliar to most. Pre-hab refers to the process of enhancing the functional abilities of a patient prior to that patient undergoing a surgery. Basically, the thought is that the healthier and stronger you are going into a surgery will improve and expedite your recovery after surgery. Some surgeons are now beginning to require a patient to have pre-hab prior to undergoing surgery and this trend is likely to continue as the evidence for pre-hab continues to grow.

A quick internet search will reveal a plethora of data and literature points out the numerous, proven benefits and supports the use of pre-hab. Participating in a pre-hab program is a good way to establish yourself in a physical therapy office and strengthen the patient and therapist relationship prior to surgery. If you are not already established at a physical therapy office, this is a great avenue to do so. This can help to ease the uncertainty after the surgery.

A study by researchers at New England Baptist Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, all based in Boston, found that patients that had knee and hip replacement surgery that had participated in water- and land-based strength training, and aerobic and flexibility exercises for six weeks prior to their surgeries reduced their odds of needing inpatient rehabilitation by 73 percent. Patients in various studies were cited as having lower pain ratings and improved functional scores at various points during their post-operative care.

If you have an upcoming surgery planned, you should contact a skilled physical therapist 6-8 weeks prior to the surgery for pre-habilitation. The therapist will perform an evaluation and then implement a plan that will likely focus on noted areas of deficiency. The therapist will address any strength or range of motion deficits, as well as possibly help to control or reduce any swelling prior to the surgery. Also, the therapist will assess and teach you how to most efficiently ambulate with any devices (walkers, canes, crutches etc.), as well as go up and down stairs, get in and out of the car and numerous other functional activities which will make the post-op transition easier and less stressful.

Contact any of our offices for a skilled pre-habilitation evaluation today!

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