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Prehabilitation – what is it and why is it important?

For patients considering orthopaedic surgery, it’s important to understand that the condition of your overall health and fitness can impact your post-surgery recovery. For example, being overweight increases stress on the joints and can increase in-surgery risks. Patients requiring a joint replacement, who maintain or work towards becoming as fit and healthy as possible, build a strong foundation for a better recovery.

Preparation for your recovery begins before your surgery

Ensuring your health and fitness is in the best possible condition before your surgery will prepare your joint for the next stage of your treatment.

While the physical benefits of health and fitness are great motivation, so too are the emotional benefits. You may be feeling anxious or worried about your joint replacement surgery. Exercise in a supportive environment may help take your mind off any pre-surgery anxieties, while also improving your mood, positivity and outlook on life.

Being fit and active before surgery will provide you with the peace of mind that you are capable of completing your rehabilitation. It will also give you the motivation to get back to your lifestyle and regular activities, as quickly as is recommended.

A focus on fitness

If you require a joint replacement, we strongly recommend participating in a pre-surgery preparation program, known as “Prehabilitation” or “prehab”. Programs involve a range of allied health professionals like physiotherapists, occupational therapists, dieticians and exercise physiologists to optimise physical function through exercise and education in order to improve your post-operative outcomes.

These programs aim to get you to a healthy body weight, increase your cardiovascular activity and strengthen the stabilising muscles surrounding the joint you are having replaced in the lead up to your surgery, with the overall goal of decreasing your recovery time post-surgery.

Prehabilitation should begin with an initial assessment to ensure the program is personalised and addresses your specific needs. A supervised program can then be delivered in one-to-one consultations with your therapist or in group exercise classes and hydrotherapy sessions with like-mind individuals on a similar journey.

Hydrotherapy is a great option for those who find load bearing exercise painful. The warm water can help to promote muscle relaxation and pain reduction in muscles and joints, allowing exercise that may not be achievable on land. In addition, the buoyancy of the water reduces the impact of body weight and therefore stress through the joints, promoting better movement with reduced pain. 

Prehabilitation programs give you the opportunity to build a relationship with your therapist and familiarise yourself with the post-operative exercises before surgery, making the transition into post-surgery rehabilitation easy and seamless.

It is incredibly important to operate within your limits, both in prehabilitation and rehabilitation. At Ramsay Health Plus, your therapist will support you as you work within your means to gradually progress towards your individual goals.

How do I get involved in a prehabilitation program?

Getting involved in a prehabilitation program is as simple as speaking to your surgeon or GP. They will be able to refer you to the right therapist that will help you achieve your prehab goals. Ensure your surgeon is informed and comfortable with any prehabilitation activities you plan to undertake.

Ramsay Health Plus offer a variety of services to help you prepare for surgery. Ramsay Health Plus is a private practice at Hollywood Private Hospital. To make an appointment call on 9346 6932. A referral from your surgeon is welcomed but not essential.