Shape up for Surgery
Ready to replace your worn-out knee or hip and have scheduled your joint replacement surgery? You have taken or are preparing to take the pre-surgery class at the hospital, read all you can and talked to others who have gone before you. Still, you may feel trepidation. Will you bounce back quickly, or struggle to get on your feet again? That is a good question. If you want a speedy recovery and an overall successful outcome you may want to rely on not only your surgeon’s skills but consider getting into shape with pre-hab before your surgery.
Fifty percent of outcome success is due to the surgeon, and the other 50 percent is due to the patient’s commitment to recovery. Our Joint Camp is an excellent pre-hab program that helps speed along the patient's recovery says Chris Jobeck, DPT, Shore Health System.
Rehabilitation is an exercise and therapy program performed for up to three months after surgery, and most joint-replacement patients know to expect it. Pre-habilitation or “pre-hab” for short is an exercise therapy program started six weeks prior to surgery. It is a new concept to many.
“Pre-hab has made a difference in our patients’ outcomes. By improving strength their milestones can be reached in less time,” says Orthopaedic surgeon Myron J. Szczukowski, Jr., MD, Medical Director of Shore Health Systems Joint Replacement Center in Easton.
Effectiveness of Pre-hab
Just how effective is pre-hab? A study at New England Baptist Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, all in Boston, found that knee and hip-replacement surgery patients who participated in strength training along with aerobic and flexibility exercises for just six weeks prior to their surgeries reduced their odds of needing inpatient rehabilitation by 73 percent. “Even in a fairly brief time period, the exercise paid off for the participants,” says lead study author Daniel Rooks, PhD assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Their level of function and pain stabilized prior to surgery, whereas those who did not exercise got worse. The benefits of exercise before surgery are very clear: The more you can do for yourself physically before surgery, the better off you will be."
Back on Your Feet Faster
The rewards of pre-hab show in the first 24 hours after surgery. After knee-replacement surgery, for example, patients are expected to be walking (using crutches or a walker) to the bathroom or in the hallway the day after. They generally must be able to go up and down two to four steps and walk 50 to 100 feet before leaving the hospital (usually 3-5 days).
Patients who are more fit prior to surgery may have shorter hospital stays and may be discharged to home for outpatient rehab, rather than to a rehab facility for inpatient therapy. They also have fewer outpatient rehab sessions.
“We have seen a significant difference in our Joint Replacement Center patients who had pre-hab. By learning the exercises prior to surgery they have a better understanding and can do the exercises easily after their joint replacement" says Laura Hanlon, RN Joint Replacement Center Coordinator for Shore Health Systems.
How to Get Pre-hab
Join our physical therapists for Joint Replacement Camp on Wednesdays from 11:00am – 12:00pm. The cost is $10 per session.