Most people have heard of rehabilitation, the undertaking of treatment and exercise regime following an injury, however have you heard of prehabilitation?!
There are several studies showing the effectiveness of undertaking physiotherapy treatment and an exercise program designed to help reduce symptoms and strengthen a particular body area BEFORE undergoing surgery to repair the injury. This is called prehabilitation. Injuries to the ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) in the knee are one of these which has been shown to benefit from prehabilitation.
Studies have shown that those patients who underwent prehab, had a faster return to sport, better muscle function and greater ability to tolerate uneven surfaces (proprioception). Another example of this is patients requiring a total knee replacement. With adequate prehab, they commence their post-operative recovery with better muscle function and often less instability. This can help them back on their feet faster with a speedier road to recovery.
Prehabilitation is an exercise program undertaken prior to surgery designed to:
- Increase strength and range of motion of both upper and lower limbs
- Increase balance, endurance and joint awareness
- Increase both core abdominal and upper body strength for greater control of gait aids
- Improve general fitness and weight control
With all major musculoskeletal surgery, a large degree of commitment is required by the patient in the process. To maximise outcome and to achieve patient goals, a concerted approach to prehabilitation provides the best launching pad to a successful recovery.
We are finding that more and more surgeons and GP’s are becoming aware of these benefits and insisting that their patients seek some treatment and advice from their Physiotherapist some 6-8 weeks before undergoing their operation.
The other benefit we have found is the ability to give the patient clear goals and thorough guidelines of home management for both before and after the operation (such as icing, medication, rest versus activity, return to work advice). It is not uncommon for patients to have not fully understood the instructions from the hospital or doctors if they only just came out of the general anaesthetic.