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Prepare for Joint Replacement Surgery with Prehab

By Katrina Lampros, MPT, physical therapist at Wentworth-Douglass Rehabilitation Services

"That wasn't as bad as I thought it would be." These were the words from a recent patient as we wrapped up her Preh­abilitation (Prehab) evaluation to prepare for joint replacement surgery. This patient was electing to have a total hip replacement due to progressively worsening hip pain and had been referred to Prehab, outpatient physical therapy prior to surgery.

What is Prehab?

Prehabilitation programs help prepare patients who are undergoing joint replacement procedures. During Prehab, patients work with a physical therapist to develop individualized programs to strengthen muscles and prepare for joint replacement surgery. The physical therapist performs a physical examination of range of motion, strength, balance, and functional mobility to develop a patient-specific pre-operative exercise plan.

At Wentworth-Douglass, our specialized physical therapists work with patients to select appropriate and tolerable exercises, and each physical therapist is skilled in tailoring these exercises to meet the patient’s abilities and needs. 

How Does Prehabilitation Prepare You for Joint Replacement Surgery?

Research demonstrates that patients who participate in Prehab before surgery are more likely to discharge home and have a shorter length-of-stay in the hospital.

Here are some of the other benefits patients might gain from Prehabilitation:

1. Improved range of motion and muscle activation of the joint.

2. Increased strength of trunk, upper body and non-operative leg, which are relied on more during the post-operative phase of recovery.

3. Familiarity with the post-operative rehabilitation environment.

4. A tailored exercise routine for you similar to post-operative recovery.        

If you are preparing for total joint replacement, you may be surprised to hear that I have never worked with a patient who hasn’t been able to participate in some form of exercise prior to surgery. You may be even more surprised to hear that an appropriate Prehab exercise program can actually help reduce arthritic pain!

At Wentworth-Douglass Hospital, we have physical therapists with specialization in caring for people before and after receiving a total joint replacement.

If you have questions about physical therapy to prepare for joint replacement, Prehab, or any questions regarding Wentworth-Douglass’s Rehabilitation Services, please call (603) 740-2101.

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