As your surgery nears, getting through the operation itself is probably all that’s on your mind. But having a plan before surgery for your home set-up and what exercise you can be doing up to surgery and what exercise will be expected post-surgery, can help you build your confidence and reduce your worry going in to surgery.

No matter how much of a miracle worker your surgeon is, that skillful work can be undone without proper pre and post-surgical rehabilitation by a qualified occupational therapist.

The two main areas of concern for anyone after an operation are loss of strength and loss of mobility. Therapy can work on reducing inflammation and strengthening related muscles pre-operatively to create the best possible environment for surgery, ensuring the best possible outcome. Not only are the specific areas on which you will be operated on will be stronger and given plenty of attention — but your overall endurance and flexibility will also be improved as you head in to surgery. This comprehensive approach to therapy before and after an operation allows you to bounce back more quickly.

Which operations should have Pre-Operative and Post-Operative Therapy?

Of course, not every pre and post-surgical rehabilitation period can be improved upon with Occupational Therapy. But in many cases, this type of post-surgical rehab speeds up the recovery process. Here are a few operations for which Occupational Therapists are usually recommended for pre-op and post-op care:

  • Rotator cuff tear repair
  • Additional operations resulting in weakness or stiffness
  • Tendon repairs
  • Nerve transpositions/releases
  • Ligaments repairs of the wrist and fingers
  • Ganglion cyst removals
  • Thumb joint replacements
  • Tennis elbow
  • Shoulder, elbow, wrist and finger fractures.
    Just to name a few.

How does pre-operative rehab improve your outcome from surgery?

Our body’s natural ability to heal itself can be impeded by excessive inflammation. Therapy can help reduce inflammation either with massage, ice/heat application, electrical stimulation and exercise. Therapy can also provide a strengthening program to the body regions surrounding the operative site to reduce the amount of loss of strength that occurs naturally by just having the surgery. Proper instruction in cane, crutch, walker or assisting to set up your home environment can lessen the fear and stress of having to learn what to do while you are in pain and on medication immediately after surgery.

How does post-surgical rehab speed recovery?

Any time of operation can result in mild to extreme discomfort. Therapy can help reduce this pain in a number of ways, from applying ice, gentle massage or low-pulse electrical devices, to gently manipulating your muscles to ease tension. Assistive device use such as slings or braces, and adapting how you do things are sometimes crucial to an excellent and speedy recovery.

Once your pain is under control, therapy can begin to address the challenges of your specific surgery.

Of course, being laid up can affect your body in ways that extend beyond the area of surgery. You might lose muscle mass, or even develop breathing problems, in some instances. Occupational Therapy takes a holistic approach to your care and will work with you to rebuild your strength and endurance, while also working the specific surgical areas.