Preventative rehabilitation or "Prehab" has recently garnered more attention in the world of orthopedics and is most often used in one of two ways: pre-operative rehabilitation or injury prevention. As medical costs continue to rise, prehab can be an excellent way of actually cutting costs in the long run. As the saying goes, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
When one sustains a traumatic injury to a joint such as the knee, shoulder or ankle, it is often associated with a lack of mobility and/or strength as well as swelling and decreased function. These traumatic events often require surgery. Pre-operatively any of these deficits often need to be addressed for optimum post-surgical outcomes. Formal rehabilitation treatments may include stretching, strengthening, joint mobilizations or modalities such as ice, heat, ultrasound, or electrical stimulation.
Skilled prehab can also be beneficial through patient and family education. A major surgery can be a stressful experience for both patient and family, and many may not know what to expect after surgery. Rehab clinicians can help not only with post-op exercises but also by educating patients and their families on what they can expect once they are out of the surgical facility and into their homes.
Clinicians may offer advice on assistive devices and how to use them, car transfers, stairs, home modalities for pain relief such as icing or wrapping and use of reaching devices. Outcomes for prehab often result in both improved physical outcomes and improved patient satisfaction. For many different surgeries prehab is beneficial both physically and mentally, which in turn can have a positive effect on patient satisfaction.
Injury prevention is another emerging area of medicine. Many high school, college, and professional sports teams are integrating programs to prevent injury. As the many seasons of competition pass, information can be gathered to see trends in injury. The medical staff can then design programs to address these trends. ACL tears are one example of injuries that can be decreased with proper training. Proper strengthening and jump technique training can significantly reduce non-traumatic ACL tears.