Pre-habilitation: What is it and why is it effective?

Written by on April 9, 2020

Pre-habilitation: What is it and why is it effective?

Physical therapy plays a crucial role in recovery after surgery. Individuals will undergo weeks or months of physical therapy in order to reach his or her goals and return to a preoperative level of function. What if there was a way to maximize recovery after surgery? Pre-habilitation, or physical therapy prior to surgery, is an effective but underutilized treatment approach for maximizing postoperative outcomes.

Pre-habilitation programs can be utilized for a wide range of orthopedic procedures, such as rotator cuff repairs, joint replacements, and ACL reconstructions, and beneficial for all age groups. Fitness levels, especially prior to surgery, can powerfully predict objective and functional outcomes associated with surgery. Studies show that patients with higher functional capabilities will better tolerate a surgical intervention. Enhancing a patient’s functional capacity before surgery is the main focus of rehab physical therapy and is highly correlated to successful recovery after surgery. Physical therapy prior to surgery typically lasts 4-8 weeks and focuses on the patient’s individual deficits leading into surgery

Research highlights the many advantages of pre-habilitation programs. For example, improving physical function prior to surgery has shown improvements in length of hospital stay, postoperative pain, postoperative complications, physical function, and quality of life. It has also been noted in research that patients who received treatment before surgery returned to work and sport sooner than patients who did not undergo pre surgery treatment. Ultimately, patients are more likely to recovery faster post-operatively when participating in a thorough physical therapy program before surgery

Have questions regarding treatment options prior to surgery? Reach out to the team at 3DPT! Our therapist would be more than happy to discuss any questions you may have regarding a pre-habilitation program

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