Most people think of physical therapy in regard to rehabilitation following surgery, but it’s also beneficial for preparing the body to undergo a surgical procedure. It’s effective for aiding in quicker recovery times, decreasing the potential for complications, and reducing the care required after surgery - especially in major procedures such as joint replacements.
It’s beneficial prior to any surgical procedure and can be particularly advantageous for sports injuries. A sports-related injury requiring surgery will typically be more severe and require specialized care if the patient is to return to full functionality and “prehab” therapy can help.
Pre-surgical physical therapy maximizes a patient’s range of motion, strength and control prior to the surgery and helps individuals regain mobility and control faster and more effectively post-operatively. Between the time an injury occurs and when surgery is scheduled, a substantial amount of atrophy can occur in muscles. Movement patterns can also change as people try to compensate for a loss of motion or balance. Physical therapy is beneficial for preventing both situations.
Six Benefits of Pre-Surgery Physical Therapy
Physical therapy before surgery aids the body in ways ranging from quicker recoveries to better pain management. Pre-surgical physical therapy can help with:
Better overall health for quicker recovery
Improved pain management
Better response to rehabilitation
Minimize risk of complications after surgery
Mitigate the risk of re-injury
Instruction in mobility aids before they're actually needed
Pre-surgery physical therapy provides patients with an opportunity to become familiar with the equipment, mobility aids and types of rehabilitation methods that will be utilized after their surgery is performed. It’s much easier for patients to focus on the things they’ll need to know prior to surgery instead of immediately after when they may be feeling overwhelmed.
Exercise is a key component in rehabilitation and pre-surgical physical therapy provides the means to build the strength needed in specific locations of the body to accommodate crutches or a wheelchair. It’s especially beneficial for those who have to relearn how to move normally again after their surgery. Patients who have pre-surgical physical therapy have greater stamina, endurance and resilience for their rehabilitation program.
Nutrition plays an important role in recoveries. People facing surgery often eat for comfort and your physical therapist can assist with nutritional and dietary supplements to control weight and minimize inflammatory responses. He/she can also help with dietary advice to prevent constipation that often occurs after surgery.
Pre-Surgery Physical Therapy for Better Recoveries
Your physical therapy program may begin anywhere from a week to several months before your surgery is scheduled, depending upon the type of surgery that’s required. It will encompass strengthening of key muscle groups and the cardiovascular system. At-home exercises may be prescribed.
Your physical therapy will include treatments to improve your balance, coordination, endurance and posture. If you’ll require a mobility aid following surgery, you’ll receive instruction in its proper use, enabling you to be mobile as soon as possible.
If edema is a problem your physical therapist has treatments that can aid in reducing fluid retention and aid the body with detoxification. Multiple therapies are available to help maintain range of motion and reduce stress that includes manual manipulation, therapeutic massage and hydrotherapy, along with ultrasound therapy and electrical stimulation.
A pre-surgery physical therapy program will be individualized to meet your needs of the specific type of surgery you’ll undergo. The therapy program will be carefully crafted to help you maintain flexibility and better physical conditioning for healing.
The stronger you are at the time of surgery and the more you know, the better equipped you’ll be both physically and mentally for the rehabilitation stage. Properly prepared, your body will heal faster and be ready to meet the challenges of returning to full functionality.