Research studies have found that pre-surgical rehabilitation has many benefits for patients. Mostly, it is believed that the benefits are derived due to the fact that it prepares patients for postoperative rehab. Researchers in Ohio reviewed 4,733 Medicare cases involving total hip or knee replacement from a combination of 169 rural and urban hospitals with wide geographic distribution and found that 79.7% percent of patients who did not receive preoperative physical therapy required post-acute care services. That rate dropped to 54.2% for patients who received even a small number of physical therapy sessions before surgery. The study was published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.
Another study supports the merits of presurgical physical therapy. Between 2007 and 2011, 2,690 patients were monitored after surgery. Those who have physical therapy prior to surgery had much better outcomes than those who did not. The ones who have physical therapy scored significantly better at certain measure points a year after surgery and were still going strong two years after undergoing surgery.
Those patients who participate in pre-hab programs often have shorter hospital stays, regain function and return to their regular lives faster than those who do not participate in pre-surgical rehabilitation. As a result, many doctors are now “prescribing” pre-hab before surgery for their patients. And most HMOs and insurance companies are beginning to cover pre-surgical rehab costs. This makes it cost-effective for patients to afford rehab costs.
The Basics of Rehab Before Surgery
Often before surgery, the region to be operated on is weak and inflamed. Physical therapy can help improve blood circulation to the area for increased mobility and pain relief. It also helps minimize compensatory movements. Being in the best of health goes a long way to postoperative recovery. Simple guidelines of rehab before surgery include:
- Beginning the pre-hab program around six weeks before surgery
- A slow progression to avoid aggravating the existing problem
- Exercise breaks for comfort
- Meeting prerequisites, such as being able to climb stairs
Pre-surgical rehab is comprehensive. Movement restrictions may be given, and supportive garments may be discussed. You may also be instructed on how to use an assistive device and instructed in a home exercise program. Rehab before surgery benefits those having neck and back surgery, arthroscopic knee surgery, joint replacements and rotator cuff repairs. Just about any type of surgery has benefits with pre-surgical rehab.
Pre-surgical rehab is an individualized physical conditioning program and a collaborative effort involving your surgeon and physical therapist. If there is some discomfort, your physical therapist can help reduce the pain with gentle exercise/stretching, cold packs, ultrasound or electrical stimulation. You can also get some of the mental, physical and emotional confidence required to succeed in post-surgical programs from engaging with others. Most patients benefit greatly from pre-surgical programs.
Rehabilitation is a big part of recovering after having surgery. It’s important to understand that post-surgical rehab is a long process. While surgery can be done within a few hours, rehabilitation may take many months and even up to a year. And while the actual timeframe for recovery depends on many factors, it’s important that you are totally committed to the process. Keep in mind that post-surgical rehab is a progressive activity. For example, workloads on a repaired joint are done gradually. It’s a complex process that’s a bit like baking bread. You’ve got to wait for the dough to rise before you put it in the oven. It’s the same with recovering from surgery. You have to wait sometime to help the biological process do its work.
Why You Need Rehab After Surgery
After surgery, you’ll need rehab to get your strength back. With the help of a physical therapist and other specialists, you’ll be better able to improve body movement. You’ll learn the safest ways to walk, get dressed, bathe and more. Whether you’ve had heart surgery, joint replacement or another type of surgery, rehab will help you get back to your regular routine much faster. The key goals of any rehab program are to:
- Reduce pain
- Strengthen your muscles
- Improve range of motion and movement
- Help you walk again
- Teach you how to do daily activities, such as get up from a chair, climb stairs and get in and out of a car
Post-Surgical Rehab with a Physical Therapist
A physical therapist will work closely with you to set goals and manage your individual treatment plan. You and your physical therapist will ultimately work out a chart for activities and record progress along the way. Your physical therapist will also help you work through any difficulties and adjust your treatment as needed. The journey to overcome chronic pain and recover functionality and maximum mobility can be long. A qualified physical therapist will help you address obstacles and provide support while providing the best treatment available. Contact us at Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, Mattawan, Plainwell & Portage, MI centers to learn how physical therapy services can help you overcome pain and return to the highest level of functioning possible.
The most common reason doctors prescribe physical therapy after surgery is to make sure that your body heals properly from your operation. This could be to return to full motion/strength after arthroscopy on your knee or shoulder or to retrain your muscles after a major surgery, like repairing an ACL tear. Keep in mind that your surgeon’s specialty is to diagnose and repair an injury, while physical therapists are musculoskeletal experts that are there to help improve the way you feel and function. Many doctors will also send you for a few sessions of physical therapy before your operation. This will help to strengthen your body as much as possible. In addition, talking to your PT about what lies ahead, including the length of rehabilitation and what levels of pain to expect during your recovery, can be a huge help when approaching your postoperative period. In fact, a recent study showed that back patients who had just one pre-op session with a physical therapist had a much smoother post-op experience.
Having surgery and wondering whether or not you’re a good candidate for rehab before surgery? Request an appointment or free screening at Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, East Kalamazoo, Holland, Mattawan, Midtown (Downtown Kalamazoo), Plainwell, Portage, Richland, Schoolcraft, and Three Rivers clinics , and we’ll schedule a one-on-one consultation with a comprehensive evaluation. If you’re a good candidate for it, we’ll work with your doctor and physician to come up with the best course of prehab therapy for your specific needs. The road to recovery doesn’t have to wait until after surgery.