Prehab Physical Therapy Before Surgery Can Help You Recover Faster

  • author name Keri Simmons, PT, DPT
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Many people think of rehabilitation as therapy patients undergo after an injury or surgery. But did you know prehabilitation, or physical therapy before a planned surgery, may help you recover faster and in some cases, delay or avoid surgery altogether?

Benefits of Prehab

Both rehab and prehab can help people manage pain and enhance their range of motion, strength, and mobility. At times, physical therapy can help extend the time before surgery is needed or even reduce the need for surgery if your personal goals have been met.

When looking ahead to surgery, you may have questions and perhaps even some apprehension about your procedure and recovery. Your doctor will answer many of your concerns. However, a physical therapist can offer unique perspectives to help you prepare for surgery and assure your best possible recovery. During prehab, you can:

  • Learn safe exercises to do before and after surgery to enhance your recovery
  • Find out how to use any assistive devices (wheelchair, walker, crutches) you may need to help you carry out day-to-day activities
  • Review precautions, your plan of care, and expected outcomes from your surgery
  • Address specific questions you have about your surgery and recovery
  • Help you understand (if uncertain) whether surgery is the right choice for you

Who Should (and Should Not) Consider Prehab?

Physical therapy is not for everyone, including people with unstable fractures and those who recently completed a course of physical therapy without success. Prehab may be recommended for:

  • Patients who will be undergoing total joint replacements (shoulders, hips, knees) or surgeries to address orthopedic injuries including rotator cuff and ACL repairs
  • People who are uncertain or are unable to get surgery
  • Patients with limited transportation may benefit from a home therapy visit to learn how to maneuver elevations at home and prepare their home for a safe return after surgery.

If you or someone you know is considering an orthopedic surgery, talk with your physician about a physical therapy referral. Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health outpatient locations have the ability to treat a wide variety of orthopedic impairments. 

author name

Keri Simmons, PT, DPT

Keri Simmons, PT, DPT, is a physical therapist based at the Lancaster General Kissel Hill outpatient location. Keri is a member of the Lancaster General Health Lower Extremity and Vestibular clinical excellence teams. She is a graduate of Penn State University and received her doctorate in physical therapy from Thomas Jefferson University.

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