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Physical therapy before surgery? How it can benefit your recovery.

So often, we can assume the role of physical therapy happens after an operation.

This is a valid assumption however, did you know there are treatment plans that consist of pre-operative physical therapy as well?

This means you're starting a therapy journey and working towards your recovery goal before you even step foot towards an operation.

Some might have the following questions:

How will this benefit me?

What is the point of starting a physical therapy session before I get an operation?

Why should I start physical therapy if I don't feel like I necessarily need it?

To get these answers, we headed over to our Irvine clinic director, Dr. Christine Weidemann to better understand the process and benefits of this type of treatment plan.

She gave us the following breakdown:

Builds strength & improves recovery time:

This process helps improve strength. Improvements in strength pre-operatively can greatly improve your recovery time, especially in the short term. This may even help with your pain level.

Think of this like preparing for a big storm. Say there was a natural disaster nearing in and heading your way and you actually knew about it. Wouldn't you want as much time beforehand to prepare for what's to come? You'd want to be ready for the impact. This is a similar concept.

You only get one body, the more strength you build up, the better the process goes after your operation. Strength will better suit up your body for the battle of recovery ahead.

Familiarity of exercises:

When you're proactive in your therapy process, it helps increase awareness of exercises although yes, they will most likely be different initially following surgery. You as the patient may be more familiar with some of the exercises and which muscles will be activated.

If you experience physical therapy before your operation, you'll know what expectations to have! You will be familiar with how everything is going to go instead of walking in blindly. You can get to know your therapist, the team and what you can expect, early in the game.

Comfort-ability and ease of the PT process:

Christine also shared with us, that this process will help put your mind at ease as there's much more familiarity with the clinic and staff before returning after an operation.

Many of us may struggle with anxiety in the medical setting (or in general) and that is okay and completely normal! If you get nervous heading into the health care setting (as many of us sometimes do) taking a pre-operative route will certainly help put your mind at ease.

You'll get to know your doctor, staff and begin building a positive connection to physical therapy that you can find trust in.

Expands knowledge and insight of treatment ahead:

If you expand your knowledge it ultimately helps with your education as a patient. You'll gain insight in how recovery and physical therapy will be incorporated into your journey.

In regards to benefits of physical therapy for the patient before an operation, Dr. Christine Weidmann shares,

"While seeking out the surgical team is most beneficial for questions regarding the pre-operative and procedural interventions, seeking the physical therapy team will help increase their knowledge for their rehabilitation. Not only will patients be better informed in regards to their recovery, but starting exercises pre-operatively will also allow patients to improve in their ability to activate the muscles, increase their strength, and be better aware of their body mechanics. Having improvements in strength pre-operatively can greatly improve recovery time especially in the short term post-operatively."

Just like studying for an exam, the more you know, the more prepared you will be for what's ahead. Educating yourself and furthering your understanding will be so impactful for your personal recovery!

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