Could You Benefit from Prehabilitation?

Here at LifeSource Home Health, we help people recover from surgeries and illnesses in the comfort of their own homes. Rehab helps them build their muscles, regain function, and cope with the emotional and cognitive aspects of recovery.

But you should also think about your physical and mental health before you have surgery. Experts say there’s a lot of helpful preparation patients can do before they check into the hospital or clinic! “Generally, the more fit and active you are going into a surgical procedure, the more likely you are to retain a higher level of function after,” says the American College of Surgeons. “Prehabilitation [helps] get you to a better place physically before an operation.”

Of course, this isn’t possible before every surgery or before an unexpected illness. An emergency appendectomy or heart surgery, a bowel obstruction, injuries from a car accident—some operations need to happen right away. But experts from the University of Michigan report that about 90% of surgeries are elective and scheduled. While a patient is waiting for a procedure such as heart valve replacement, organ transplant, joint replacement or chemotherapy and radiation, there’s usually a waiting period. What happens during that period can make a big difference in the patient’s recovery!

For example, experts from the University of Michigan Medical School developed a prehabilitation routine called the Michigan Surgical and Health Optimization Program (MSHOP), in which patients take part in coaching sessions before undergoing a variety of surgeries. In several studies, the researchers found that patients who had taken part in “prehab” had shorter hospital stays and fewer complications, and felt more in charge of their own care.

Prehabilitation might include:

  • Appropriate physical activities (with a doctor’s guidance)
  • Changing to a healthier diet
  • Quitting smoking
  • Stress reduction
  • Breathing exercises to improve lung function
  • Managing health conditions such as diabetes and hypertension
  • Emotional support to help patients prepare

Walking is an especially important component of the MSHOP program. Participants are encouraged to take a stroll for about an hour each day. “The vast majority of the program benefits come from the walking,” says study author Dr. Stewart Wang.

Prehabilitation can take place in a group or one-on-one setting, via televisits or using an app. If your doctor recommends that you undergo a medical or surgical procedure, ask about prehabilitation.

Source: IlluminAge AgeWise with information from the University of Michigan

Categories: Senior Health