Flex PT - April 2018

Get the Most Out of SurgeryWith ‘Prehabilitation’

While most physical therapists will not recommend surgery unless there is clearly no other avenue for a patient’s recovery, there are certainly a wide array of circumstances that warrant going under the knife. Following surgery, most patients should undergo a bout of rehabilitative physical therapy to steer the postoperative recovery process in a positive direction. However, recent research indicates that although rehabilitation is definitely important, it may not actually be enough to get the most out of a treatment. In addition to postoperative rehabilitation programs, many modern health care providers have begun recommending 4–8 weeks of exercise-based physical therapy before undergoing surgery. This pre-emptive therapy is sometimes called prehabilitation , and it can offer a host of benefits for surgical patients. These advantages include faster recovery times, fewer days spent in the hospital, lower incidence rates of surgical complications, less pain, higher activity levels, and general improved

fitness following surgery. All these benefits converge to bring about a happier, healthier patient who is more likely to return to doing what they love without worry. Though the research on prehabilitation is steadily expanding, displaying benefits for all kinds of conditions, the current data shows that prehabilitation works best for the following procedures:

guided by a professional. The exercises must be rigorous enough to strengthen and prepare the patient in the short window before surgery, but it’s vital they don’t further injure or worsen the patient’s condition. If a therapist is able to maintain this delicate balance, they can motivate and guide their patient toward positive outcomes for years to come.

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Joint replacement

Correction of spinal disorders, particularly stenosis

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Heart surgery Chemotherapy

In essence, prehabilitative patients are training for their surgery the same way a runner might train for a marathon. Considering the stress most surgeries put on the body, it only makes sense to adequately prepare.

However, it’s important that any prehabilitative measures are carefully

“My experience here has been very good. This is a very friendly and encouraging environment. Since starting here 2 1/2 months ago, I have greatly improved and the pain in my leg is gone. My mobility is so much better. I am able to walk without my cane. I plan to continue in the Step Down Program. My thanks to Steve and the entire staff.”

–Carmel N.

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