Business of Health Care: Prehab

Nov 15, 2019

Are you planning to have surgery? Did you know your success may depend equally on your surgeon's skill and your dedication to preparation and recovery? A few smart steps a few weeks before a major elective surgery can make a huge difference. 


It's called "pre-habilitation," or prehab, in contrast to the more traditional rehabilitation after surgery. 

Prehab can reduce the risk of complications and may even speed recovery. Proper exercise and nutrition can make you healthier in as little as six weeks before surgery. 

Research suggests prehab may help cut the length of a hospital stay by nearly a third. A study of joint-replacement patients who exercised six weeks prior to surgery showed a 75% reduced risk of being sent to an inpatient rehailitation facility after surgery. 

Major elective surgery stresses the body not unlike a long-distance race. Training for it makes sense, especially because there are often months between the scheduling and the day of surgery, so put that time to good use. 

According to experts, don't try to make drastic dietary changes to lose weight, but do cut back on sweets and increase consumption of fruits, vegetables and healthy protein. 

Also, move more in the weeks before surgery. Increase the number of steps you take ache week by 10% - 20%. 

If you can't exercise, just try to be less sedentary. If you are already fit, consider increasing the intensity and frequency of what you're already doing. 

And there's another bonus to prehab - it can create a healthy habit of physical fitness and eating better that continues long after surgery.