It’s no secret that having physical therapy after an injury or surgery helps you recover faster. But what if there was a way to prevent an injury in the first place? Or what if there was a way to speed recovery from surgery long before you went under the knife? Pre-hab or preventative rehabilitation helps patients heal faster after surgery, speeds recovery and, in many cases, prevents injury in the first place.
What Is Pre-hab?
The term pre-hab is short for preventative rehabilitation. A physical therapist typically uses pre-hab in two ways. First, they can teach targeted exercises and stretches to patients who are at risk for serious injuries. Second, pre-hab is a form of physical therapy used prior to surgery to speed healing and recovery.
Pre-hab for Injury Prevention
Pre-hab is one of the best ways to prevent injuries in patients at risk for developing significant movement problems. Those with physically demanding jobs may find that the exercises, stretches and pain relieving techniques taught at physical therapy help them perform in their jobs. This is especially true in jobs where there are high incidences of certain injuries. This type of physical therapy typically targets areas where injury is most likely to happen. For instance, those in the military are more prone to develop foot, knee, hip, and back problems due to the rigors of training and combat. Pre-hab can mitigate many of these injuries by teaching correct lifting techniques, proper posture and effective core strengthening exercises that keep service members strong and healthy. The same can be said for construction workers, firefighters, factory workers, or other employees in highly physical occupations.
Even pro and amateur athletes are finding that working with a physical therapist is paying off, long before an injury happens. Focusing on the areas that are stressed by everyday movement and poor habits, a physical therapist looks at your most injury-prone areas and helps you correct any problems before you get hurt. Chances are you are hunched over your computer most of the day. Working with a physical therapist can help strengthen your core and correct your posture, keeping you strong and healthy. Since an object in motion tends to stay in motion, physical therapy is also an ideal way to begin an exercise regimen. Focused on strength, mobility and balance, pre-hab can keep you injury free for life as you begin the process of getting in shape.
Pre-hab for Better Surgical Recovery
When it comes to going under the knife, many people fear what will come after the stitches have been sewn. This is especially true for anyone who has a total joint replacement. Faced with the risk of time in a rehabilitation hospital, many people delay joint replacement surgery out of fear of a long, difficult recovery. But doing physical therapy before surgery can reduce the odds of needing inpatient rehabilitation by 73 percent. Patients who are stronger before surgery also meet physical milestones sooner than those who do not. Within 24 hours of surgery, someone who has had a total knee replacement is expected to walk 500 to 1000 feet with the assistance of a walker. Those who work with a physical therapist before surgery are more likely to meet this demand. These patients are stronger and have better blood flow. Physical therapy also teaches them many of the movements stretches, pain relieving techniques, and strengthening exercises they will need in their recovery.