While not as widely known as rehabilitation, the idea behind prehabilitation is really quite simple: a stronger, more fit body will be able to withstand surgical procedures and recover more rapidly and completely.
Prehabilitation, or pre-hab, has become more widely used in the past decade, and numerous studies have shown it to have a positive impact on patient outcomes. It is particularly effective for orthopedic patients, as strengthening of muscles, ligaments, and soft tissue around the surgical site can certainly have significant benefits.
Pre-hab programs are individualized to address the exact needs of each patient; however, in most cases the prescribed physical activity can closely resemble a well-rounded exercise routine. This would include some or all of the following components:
- Warm-up activity such as stretching or walking to prepare the body for work.
- Cardiovascular training such as running or biking to improve fitness and endurance
- Strength or resistance training such as weightlifting or body-weight exercises to increase muscle strength
- Flexibility activities such as yoga or Pilates to improve range of motion, balance, and strength
- Functional activities related to the patient’s specific needs
- Nutrition programs
- Pain management programs
Again, the idea of prehabilitation is to strengthen and prepare the patient’s body to endure the strain of the surgical procedure, the period of inactivity following surgery, and ideally reduce the length of hospital stays and rehabilitation.