The term prehabilitation (short: Präha) stands for building strength, mobility and endurance before an operation – analogous to rehabilitation, the reconstruction after an operation. The Präha works even with seriously ill people.
Four to five weeks before the operation, the patients go to fitness training twice a week. This is not about big muscle growth, but about the fact that the muscles are controlled again at all. Osteoarthritis sufferers, for example, often do not move enough because of the severe pain in their joints, and they lack muscle strength and coordination. This is exactly where the Präha comes in.
A current project focuses on patients with a so-called frailty syndrome. This reduced resistance to stressors mostly occurs in older people. The factors include reduced mobility, decrease in physical strength or rapid exhaustion.
Survive knee or hip surgery better with Präha
The new concept is currently being researched not only for joint replacements on knees and hips. Even before a bladder lift, an operation lasting several hours with a large abdominal incision, patients should train in order to survive the procedure better. The training sets small stimuli that lead to the body being able to adjust to a large stimulus.
Small stimuli mean that the patient completes circuit training on a cross trainer and bicycle twice a week: four minutes of training, one minute rest, several repetitions, a total of half an hour. Everything is trained: legs, hips, waist, arms. Balance exercises are also used to strengthen ligaments and tendons.
The body’s immune system is strengthened
The fact that the exercises have an effect can even be demonstrated in the blood of the participants: the metabolism is boosted, the heart has to pump more, and more blood runs through the vessels. This challenges the vessel walls and the body adapts to the challenge. Training also strengthens the immune system.
Präha can also help with chemotherapy
Even cancer patients who are about to have an operation, benefit from the prehabilitation: Even a single stimulation can activate immune cells and thus strengthen the immune system. Preha can also help with chemotherapy and radiation.
With prehabilitation, the pain can be halved
The results of smaller pilot studies show how successful the concept of physical movement before an operation is: With pre-habilitation, the pain could be halved and mobility doubled after the operation. Regular training before a hip replacement, for example, stabilizes the muscles, tendons and ligaments around the hip to such an extent that the painkillers can be greatly reduced even before the operation. And the subsequent learning to walk with the artificial joint went very quickly.
It takes twelve weeks after the operation for patients to catch up with those who trained before the operation in terms of strength and functionality. The positive effect in the first few weeks after the procedure is a real benefit for the patients.
experts on the subject