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How Physiotherapy Can Prepare You for Surgery


Most patients will seek out the services of a Physiotherapist after having experienced an injury or to assist in recovery from surgery.  But there is a persuasive case for seeking Physiotherapy PRIOR to Surgery.  Pre-surgical rehabilitation can assist with any number of surgical procedures including Orthopaedic, Cardiac and Abdominal Surgeries.

Orthopaedic Surgery:

If you, a family member, friend or co-worker is scheduled for upcoming the surgery, you may be wise to consider Pre-Surgical Rehabilitation Therapy.  Most surgeries are scheduled months in advance so instead of waiting until after the surgery is done to begin a program of exercise rehabilitation, we frequently recommend that therapy begin 6 -8 weeks BEFORE the surgery.  Pre-Surgical Rehab has numerous benefits.  By strengthening your muscles, joints and bones before the surgery the inevitable post-surgical joint stiffness and muscle loss is minimized.  In many cases, the more fit and stronger you are before surgery will impact the speed and rate of recovery post-surgically.   It is easy to visualize the benefit of being in improved or optimal shape don’t just apply to orthopaedic surgery of the shoulder, back, hip and knee.  Preparing the body prior to any surgical procedure will set the stage for a better recovery and outcome.

Cardiac Surgery:

Patients who participate in a Pre-Cardiac Surgery exercise program return to daily function faster than those who do not. An exercise program can help reduce swelling, improve circulation and improve mobility.  A Physiotherapist will work with you to help develop proper movement and minimize dependency on leaning, limping and other forms of compensation. An added advantage to Pre-Surgical Rehab is that benchmarks are established prior to surgery and realistic expectations and goals can be set and you will be able to lay the foundation for your recovery. 

Pelvic or Abdominal Rehabilitation:

The Pelvic floor muscles are used to support the spine and internal abdominal organs.  Good pelvic floor function is required for bladder, bowel and sexual function.  Physiotherapy techniques are very effective in treating pelvic floor disorders which commonly occur after abdominal surgery, childbirth and when the abdominal core muscles are tight, short or in spasm. Signs and symptoms of weak pelvic floor muscles include abdominal pain, urinary incontinence and painful intercourse.  A Physiotherapist can assist you by promoting core strengthening exercise and treatments like trigger point release and relaxation.

Pre-Surgical Rehab is the ideal time to be fitted for braces, crutches, canes, and other assistive devices.  Learning to walk with the assistance of these devices will be easier if you are able to properly size them for your needs and practice using them prior to surgery.  Similarly proper positioning, and manoeuvring  technique for climbing stairs, getting into and out of bed, and bathroom transfers are skills that are easier to learn prior to surgery and when post-surgical debilitation and pain are not factors.  Also when you have the time to properly learn and practice the post-op exercises you know that they will be done with maximum efficiency and effectiveness when they really count.  All of these preparatory measures will ease your pre-surgical stress and facilitate a more swift and independent recovery.

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