Prehab Improves Surgery Outcomes

Like any classic machine, our bodies experience wear and tear over time and sometimes older adults need a little maintenance in the form of surgery to keep performing well.  And a new Michigan study has found that “training” prior to surgery can improve the outcome for seniors significantly.

According to a recent United Press International Health News report, prehabilitation before a major operation can help older adults return home faster, regain normal function quicker and reduce post-operative complications.  Preparing for surgery with exercise, a healthy diet and stress-relieving practices for at least one week prior to surgery was also found to lower health care costs.  

The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, compared 523 Medicare patients in Michigan who participated in prehab with a control group of 1,046 patients who had the same operations without prehabilitation.  Two-thirds of the group who trained for surgery went straight home from hospital compared with 57 percent of the control group.  Prehab patients also stayed in hospital on average a day less than the control group.  

As part of the physical and psychological preparation for surgery, study participants were engaged in a home-based walking program and received daily reminders and feedback.  They also received information about nutrition, relaxation techniques and smoking cessation and were able to practice using a spirometer; a medical device that helps patients open their lungs after surgery, preventing fluid and mucus buildup which can lead to pneumonia.

If you or a loved one has an upcoming surgery scheduled, talk with your doctor about a prehabilitation program that could help improve the outcome and recovery time for patients of all ages and risk factors. Alternatively, speak with your local fitness centre or find an independent fitness coach to tailor a program for you.  For more tips about prehab before surgery, follow this link to AARP’s Health Conditions and Treatments.