Upcoming Surgery? What Prehab Is and How it Can Help Your Recovery

By: Dr. Eric Oberst

Have you ever wondered what prehab is and how can it help? How about wondering why friends or family were “wasting” valuable time doing physical therapy when they were destined for surgery? While many times physical therapy can help you avoid surgery after an injury, sometimes accumulated stress to a tissue or an acute injury is something that cannot be overcome with physical therapy. In these cases, surgery may be warranted. However, even one visit to physical therapy can prove valuable. In today’s blog, we’ll explore why physical therapy (prehab) can (and should!) be prescribed in many cases. 

What is prehab?

Quite simply, prehab is when a patient actively participates in physical therapy prior to a potential or planned surgery.

How can prehab help?

Research supports that prehab improves long-term outcomes vs. not having any physical therapy prior to undergoing a surgical procedure. At Body One PT, we believe that prehab can help improve your outcome in several key ways:

  1. Understanding your prognosis: Unfortunately, we find that in many cases in which prehab was not performed, the patient may be surprised that surgery does not guarantee a return to function at 100%. The patient also may be unaware of the length and frequency of recommended physical therapy after surgery in order to maximize function. Which leads us to the next point…
  2. Set the expectations: prehab will allow you to talk to your physical therapist about your specific prognosis. This will allow the fears, anxiety, and unknowns of surgery to be addressed. Your physical therapist will discuss specific timelines and bench marks to expect for your condition. Depending on your conditioning, your physical therapist will discuss and demonstrate ways which how to safely maximize function post-operatively, whether this is learning how to walk with crutches or learning how to safely roll in bed with a back brace on.
  3. Improve range of motion and strength: If you are tight and weak going into surgery, you will be tight and weak coming out of surgery. Your long-term outcome will be maximized the more joint range -of-motion, muscle flexibility, and strength you have leading into surgery. An added bonus is familiarizing yourself with some of your post-op exercises before you may be uncomfortable and medicated after surgery.

If you are a considering surgery, please call one of our three clinics today to find out how you can decrease fear and anxiety about your upcoming surgery, while maximizing your long-term outcome to allow you to return to the things that you love! Body One PT is both locally-owned and operated, with three locations serving Central Indianapolis: North Indy/Carmel, Fishers, and Zionsville. Set yourself up for success by partnering with the experts at Body One – call today for more info!