Your Rehab May Depend on Your Prehab
Expect the unexpected.
Hope for the best but prepare for the worst. By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
Better to be proactive than reactive.
For those who have had any sort of surgery, even ones that are considered to be mild, you know the difficulties associated with recovery. Most facing upcoming surgeries seem to be consumed with the unknowns with regards to what happens after their procedure. What kind of pain am I going to experience? When can I get back to activities of daily living? When can I go back to work. Of course, there are so many factors determining the answers to these and a slew of other questions. While a person’s rehab can play a large role in getting life back to normal, what is often dismissed or not emphasized enough is the state of your health prior to surgery. As rehab refers to the recovery process afterwards, the preparation for surgery is often called “PRE-hab”. Research shows that even without surgical complications, there can be up to a 40 percent reduction in physical function following major surgery. As the body deals with the trauma of the surgery, there is a certain amount of catabolism (the breaking down of the body’s tissues, cells and molecules) along with the associated healing. Both of these processes require a certain degree of oxygen. Oxygen is important for healing. The more oxygen circulating throughout the blood, the better the healing. Guess what? The more exercise one does, the more oxygen there will likely be to support the healing process. This is why prehab may be just as important, if not more important, than the rehab. Ideally, we should all be in tip-top shape at all times; however, this is not always the case. Not everyone exercises and continuously remains in great shape. For those not used to exercising and who have upcoming surgery, planning months in advance will pay off after surgery when you need as much energy and strength as possible.
Other than the benefits of improved healing, prehab also makes your stronger. Many orthopedic surgeries deal with extremities like shoulders, hips and knees. Improving upper body and core strength will help you maneuver in bed, on and off a commode or better manage a walker. Having stronger legs will get you mobile quicker following surgery which may reduce the chance of blood clots forming. Exercise also has many benefits mentally, as well. Prehab may help reduce anxiety prior to surgery and may also lessen the chance of post-operative depression. These days, most surgeons will offer presurgical preparation advice (The better you do post-surgically, the better the surgeon looks!). If you are motivated to do more than what is offered and suggested, it may be in your best interests to seek the advice of a physical therapist, months before any surgical procedure.