Prehabilitation – The Importance of Pre Surgery Strength Training

Prehabilitation or ‘prehab’ is not a new concept but it may be starting to gain some ground in the health industry due to recent findings.

The benefits of prehab has been known and taught in universities for decades however it is still not utilised to its full potential and the public are not well educated on its benefits.

Usually patients require or are encouraged to complete inpatient and/or outpatient rehabilitation post surgery yet they are not encouraged to complete any pre surgical exercise or strength work when we already know it can enhance the rehabilitation phase greatly along with many other benefits. The funny thing is that current research doesn’t just find positive outcomes for the patient but can also save hospitals a lot of money.

So What is Prehabilitation?

According to Mr Graham Mercer (Head of Orthopaedics at Repatriation Hospital, South Australia) ‘Prehabilitation is the process of enhancing functional capacity of the individual to enable them to withstand the stresses of orthopaedic surgery and the associated inactivity.’

From our experience at MD Health we see many people who are potentially in need of surgery in the future or are already booked for surgery. The results we obtain from the Full Body Assessment are a clear indication that they need to increase their strength to enable quicker recovery and better rehabilitation post surgery.  It is very rewarding to see the positive effects that our clients achieve to get them ready for surgery and in some cases their surgeries are postponed due to improved function and reduced pain.

This in itself is a major reason why patients should be included into a graded exercise plan prior to surgery.

Based on information from Mr Graham Mercer, orthopaedic surgery places many issues within the hospital system these are:

  • Length of hospital stay post surgery
  • Patient expectation of inpatient rehabilitation
  • Growing waiting list for surgery
  • Service capacity

This means more money goes into funding all of these much needed services. The longer the patient stays the higher the costs.

After conducting a 6 month trial where prehabilitation programs were included as part of patient’s surgery they found that there was:

  • A reduction of inpatient rehabilitation.
    • Up to 94% of patients did not need to complete inpatient rehabilitation.
  • Reduction of length of stay post hip replacements
  • 91% achieved their pre surgical goals

Prehab has a huge role to play in preparation, management and outcomes of surgery. You could almost say it is a wasted opportunity if not completed and there is more chance of pre/post surgical issues.

Here at MD Health Pilates we highly recommend strength training programs prior to surgery to help activate muscles and stabilise your joints to create the best atmosphere for surgery as well as aid in rehabilitation.

If you have a friend or family member who may be in need of or has been booked in for surgery please contact us to start a prehabilitation program today.

Beth Chiuchiarelli
Accredited Exercise Physiologist

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