Everyone understands that after a surgery they go to physical therapy for rehabilitation, but what many people don’t know is that attending physical therapy prior to a surgery is just as important! This “prehabilitation” or “prehab” can help patients return to their prior level of function/activity faster. Research and anecdotal data have shown that prehab can improve recovery time as well as improving quality of life post-procedure. Prehab has also shown to be associated with a decrease in the use of post-acute care services (like skilled nursing facility stays and home health care), which saves about $1000 in post-procedural care.
A physical therapist put it very clearly… “People wouldn’t run a marathon without training for it,” so why not prepare/train for a surgery like total joint replacements, ligamentous repairs, and the like? Physical therapists are the most well-equipped to help “train” a patient for surgery by optimizing range of motion, strength, and function so that they are already a step ahead in the post-surgical rehabilitation process. Physical therapists can also help in educating the patient on what to expect post-surgery, how to maximize the healing process and start on range of motion and strengthening before even seeing the physical therapist to start post-operative rehabilitation.
Surgery is a big deal for patients and they should consider all the options they have to prepare themselves for it. Ask your doctor or physical therapist about prehabilitation if you’re considering surgery!