ByDuring the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been a number of shifts within the healthcare industry, as well as resource and staffing adjustments across hospitals. One resulting change was the postponing of elective surgeries. After anticipating their surgery for weeks, perhaps even months, thousands of patients around the country learned that they wouldn’t have their procedure until a later date.
We want to provide impacted patients with helpful information around a type of physical therapy that has proven to be highly beneficial in preparation for several different types of surgeries. In this post, we will cover some commonly held questions around prehabilitation therapy.
What is Prehabilitation?
Most of us have heard of rehabilitation therapy, but what is prehabilitation? Prehabilitation, or prehab for short, is a specific type of therapy for patients awaiting surgery.
You might also be asking yourself, “Why physical therapy before surgery?” Completing a prehabilitation program prior to surgery helps to not only maximize your range of motion and strength, but it will also enhance your understanding of the recovery process after surgery.
This preparation with our physical therapists also teaches you the exercises and functional programs that you’ll encounter upon returning to therapy. You can think of prehabilitation as a “dress rehearsal” for your post-operative experience. Its primary goal is to strengthen your body and reduce recovery time.
Is Prehabilitation Right for Me?
Prehabilitation can be right for many patients. Some of the most common conditions treated by prehabilitation include:
Total hip replacements
Total knee replacements
For patients with these types of relatively stable conditions, they should be capable of exercising without significant increases in pain and inflammation. However, those with acute injuries like rotator cuff tears are not advised to start prehabilitation. The pain and inflammation associated with these acute conditions would make it difficult to exercise.
What are the Major Benefits of Prehabilitation?
One of the greatest benefits comes after your surgery in faster progress and reduced recovery time. Since prehabilitation prepared you for what you’ll need to complete, like the specific exercises after knee replacement surgery, the overall recovery process is accelerated.
Another benefit is realistic expectations around outcomes. Through prehabilitation, our therapists familiarize you with your prognosis and can help manage expected outcomes from your surgery. An informed and positive mindset will ensure a smoother and more pleasant recovery.
When Should I Start Prehabilitation?
An ideal course of treatment with prehabilitation usually lasts two to three weeks ahead of your anticipated surgery date, with twice-weekly visits. But your treatment doesn’t end once your sessions wrap up. During those couple of weeks, you will be expected to put the provided exercise recovery tips into practice on a daily basis. This will help further your body’s range of motion and increase strength. Your therapist will also ask you to practice your post-operative prehabilitation exercise program.
Do I Need a Referral from my Doctor to Do Prehabilitation?
All states offer some form of direct access to physical therapy. However, there are states that require a physician referral beyond the initial evaluation. We recommend checking with your insurance provider to ask if you would need a referral for prehabilitation. Alternatively, you can seek out a referral from your surgeon. This is most ideal, as a direct partnership between your surgeon and your physical therapist can produce the most optimal plan for your care before and after surgery.
Can I Do Prehabilitation via Online Physical Therapy?
Absolutely! Prehabilitation can be very effective through our online physical therapy service, ATI CONNECT, during the COVID-19 pandemic. For patients that prefer the comfort of their home, our licensed physical therapists are trained to effectively deliver online treatment.
It’s as easy as filling out a request form and mentioning your interest in prehabilitation. Our team will reach out to you and address any other questions you may have. We look forward to being here along your road to recovery!