“People are often told to follow a rehabilitation program following surgery to speed recovery. But starting weeks before going under the knife might help them regain function even faster”
“So-called “prehabilitation” to prepare someone for an upcoming stressful event has been used quite a bit in orthopedic surgery, Dr. Julie Silver, a physiatrist at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston USA, tells NPR.org’s Shots. And there’s increasing interest in using it before cancer treatment, especially to help frail or elderly patients better tolerate what lies ahead, she says.
Researchers from McGill University in Montreal studied 77 patients scheduled for colorectal cancer surgery. A kinesiologist gave the patients aerobic exercises and strength training to do at home. A registered dietitian gave them nutritional counseling and prescribed a whey supplement to make up any protein deficits, and a psychologist provided anxiety-reducing relaxation exercises.
Half of the patients were told to start the program before surgery – an average of about 25 days before – and to continue afterward for eight weeks. The other group was told to start right after surgery.
Not surprisingly, the group assigned to prehabilitation did better on a presurgery test that measured how far they could walk in 6 minutes. And it paid off.
Two months after surgery, the prehabilitation group walked an average of 23.7 meters farther than when they started the study. Rehab-only patients walked an average of 21.8 meters less than when they started. (A change of 20 meters is considered clinically significant.) And a greater proportion of the prehabilitation group was back to baseline exercise capacity by then.
The study appears in the journal Anesthesiology”
This story was originally posted on NPR.org