What is Prehabilitation Physical Therapy?

Prehabilitation is seeing a physical therapist before surgery to improve the outcome of surgery.

Who should receive it?

If your surgery is postponed or you are scheduled for surgery, then Prehabilitation(Prehab) Physical therapy is right for you.  It can be frustrating to prepare for surgery, have a negative COVID test, and then be told your surgery is elective and is postponed. You don't have to fret because you can take control of your situation and enter into Prehabilitation Physical Therapy to prepare for your upcoming surgery.

Does research support it?

The research is limited, but there is moderate evidence that a person receiving prehabilitation experiences a better surgical outcome. My 30 years of experience support that individuals receiving prehabilitation have less pain, experience faster strength gains, and return to life quicker after surgery. It really makes sense that when you are strong, properly nourished, have a positive outlook, and have good blood flow, the better your healing is going to be.

What type of treatment do you receive?

  • Pain management with modalities
  • Pain education to reduce Post Operative pain response
  • Graded Exercise to Strengthen weakened muscles or awaken Inhibited muscles.pr
  • Education in what to expect after surgery, so you can plan
  • Reduce soft tissue restrictions that are limiting movement and muscle activation
  • Increase endurance and fitness level
  • Train in how to use crutches, walkers, or wheelchairs
  • Education in Post-surgical precautions
  • Train family in how to assist you in your Home Exercise Program.

Why should I do Physical Therapy prior to my surgery?

Research has shown that Prehabilitation reduces your downtime after surgery and improves your response to surgery.

  • We can help you plan and find ways to reduce your pain with modalities and mindfulness to reduce your need for opiate medication.
  • Your muscles will become inhibited from the surgery and pain. Strengthening your muscles and activating muscles that are inhibited prior to surgery will reduce their inhibition after surgery.
  • Improving tolerance to movement and exercise prior to surgery will reduce downtime after surgery.
  • Learning your Home exercises prior to surgery will allow for better understanding and compliance with exercises after surgery. It is difficult to remember what you have been taught to do after surgery while you are medicated and recovering from anesthesia.
  • Prior to surgery, we can work with you to reduce soft tissue restrictions. After surgery, our focus is modeling where the scar tissue from surgery lays down, so it does not limit your motion. After surgery, the healing process limits us from reducing tissue restrictions close to the surgical site for 6 to 8 weeks. Waiting means more time in physical therapy, after your surgery.

Does Insurance cover it?


If your surgery has been postponed or you have an upcoming surgery take control of your rehabilitation and get started with Prehabilitation Physical Therapy. We are here to help you get back to life as quickly as possible. To learn more you can set up a free Discovery visit with Dr. Hartlage or Dr. Hixson. Call or text our offices at 803-831-1454 to schedule an appointment or free discovery visit. Simply comment below if you would like to further discuss Prehabilitation Physical Therapy or visit our website to start chatting.

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Wynter-Blyth, VenetiaMoorthy, Krishna.(Aug. 8 2017) Prehabilitation: preparing patients for surgery. BMJ : British Medical Journal (Online); London Vol. 358, 

 Giis C., Li C., Lee L., et al. (2014) Prehabilitation vs rehabilitation, a randomized control trial in patients undergoing colorectal resection for cancer. Anesthesiology. 2014; 121: 937-947

This Article is intended for education Purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or provide guidelines for treatment. Consult a physical therapist and a physician prior to starting any new exercise or rehabilitation program