Prehabilitation: A Head Start on the Road to Recovery!

We have all heard of the term rehabilitation but what does prehabilitation mean?

Just as rehabilitation is performed after a procedure to enhance physical fitness, range of motion, mobility and strength, prehabilitation is often performed before the procedure to achieve the same goals and lessen the amount of time spent rehabilitation to achieve full function.  If you have suffered an injury or have been dealing with chronic pain and surgery is required, it is recommended you undertake a prehabilitation program supervised by an ‘Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP). The goal is to ultimately increase functional capacity by increasing physical activity prior to surgery. By doing this, your body becomes pre-conditioned to endure the stress of inactivity during the initial recovery process. Studies have shown that 6 to 8 weeks of prehabilitation in patients with severe osteoarthritis completed before total knee replacement surgery, increased strength and function compared to patients who did not undergo prehabilitation. In addition, studies have also shown prehabilitation can speed up recovery time and reduce the need for rehabilitation by up to 73%*.

The concept of prehabilitation does not only apply to individuals undergoing surgery, it can be approached as a way to prevent injuries. With the goals to improve work capacity, fine-tune biomechanics, improve function and increase physical fitness, prehabilitation programs engage individuals who may be considered ‘high-risk’ and gives them the necessary tools to reduce their risk of sustaining an injury.  In an ageing workforce, older workers may have a decreased capacity for physically demanding jobs, and insufficient rest time may negatively impact physical performance and increase risk of work related injuries. A prehabilitation program provides job specific and task focused exercises and activities for the individual’s needs.

Absolute Balance has a clinic that specifically deals in prehabilitation for clients prior to hip/knee replacements and for those suffering osteoarthritis. If you have a pre-existing injury that may require surgery or if you want to minimise your risk of work-related injuries, contact the Accredited Exercise Physiologists at Absolute Balance to see how you can get a head start on your road to recovery.

Ditmyer MM, Topp R, Pifer M (2002). Prehabilitation in preparation for orthopaedic surgery. Pubmed, 43-51.


Daniel Nguyen (B.Sc. Exercise Physiology)
Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AES, AEP)(ESSAM)