There was a time when physical therapy did not begin until after the incision from your surgery had healed. Those days are gone. Now, research has shown that beginning the rehabilitation process even before you go under the knife can dramatically improve your experience from start to finish. Pre-surgical rehabilitation, or prehab, is quickly becoming the standard of care for many people seeking surgical repair of a variety of conditions. Curious if prehab is right for you? Contact our office to schedule an appointment.
What is Pre-Surgical Rehabilitation?
Surely you can’t rehabilitate something you haven’t yet had surgically repaired, right? Actually, you can and should.
Pre-surgical rehab focuses on building strength, enhancing endurance, increasing blood flow and improving balance before surgery. A physical therapist will assess your current level of disability, strength, and range of motion. They will then create a customized treatment plan that will address your needs. This may include:
- Stretches to relieve pain and muscle tension as well as improve flexibility.
- Targeted exercises to strengthen your body.
- Manual therapies aimed at relieving your pain without prescription narcotics. If it is needed, we may use modalities like ice, heat, electrical stimulation, or ultrasound therapy.
- Maximize your current function
- Ask us about our Class 4 laser
In some cases, the majority of pre-surgical rehab will happen in the comfort of your own home. A physical therapist will teach you how to do many of the stretches, exercises, and pain relieving techniques on your own prior to surgery. You then may be responsible for completing your prehab program on your own.
Who Needs Pre-Surgical Rehabilitation?
Ideally, everyone who intends to have surgery will have physical therapy for at least one month before going under the knife. Since a physical therapist is an expert in movement, they can often assess the ways a patient moves in ways that surgeons cannot. Sometimes this can result in targeted therapy that delays or even eliminates the need for surgery altogether. Other times, it can shorten recovery time, reduce the need for prescription narcotics, decrease the likelihood of falling after surgery or even shorten post-surgical physical therapy. It may even help you become acquainted with the types of physical therapy you will need once your surgery is over.
There is a specific population that is especially receptive to pre-surgical rehab – the elderly. As you get older, your body’s ability to heal, adapt to change and regain your strength after an injury decreases. The reduced function that results from an illness, injury or surgery often leads to isolation, depression and longer recovery times. The older population, in particular, shows dramatic improvements in their recovery when they participate in physical therapy before going under the knife. Complications from surgery are less likely. Their mortality rate goes down. Social isolation diminishes and confidence in movement returns much faster with a prehab program in place. They are even less likely to need long-term care.
Does Prehab Work?
Studies have shown that pre-surgical rehabilitation under the supervision of a physical therapist can:
- Reduce the likelihood you need inpatient rehabilitation by as much as 73 percent.
- Help you achieve post-surgical milestones faster.
- Limit the need for prescription narcotics following surgery.
- Reduce the number of outpatient physical therapy sessions you need after surgery.
Prehab isn’t only for people who are having surgery on joints and muscles. Studies have shown that pre-surgical rehab is also effective for people who are undergoing surgery for cancer and heart conditions. In some cases, it has even been shown to eliminate the need for surgery altogether.
The only way to find out how pre-surgical rehabilitation can help you is to contact our office. Once you have been evaluated, our physical therapist can help you create a prehab program that will strengthen your body, improve your balance and help you recover faster after surgery. Contact us today to discuss your case. Visit us at Healing Hands Physical Therapy 58 Parkland Plaza, Suite 100, Ann Arbor, MI 48103.