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How Prehabilitation Can Improve Outcomes and Reduce Hospital Costs

Doug Desjardins for HealthLeaders Media, August 14, 2013

In 2013, a study of lung cancer patients showed that patients who followed an exercise program before surgery had better post-operative results. It concluded that "preoperative exercise and short-term, intense physical therapy has been demonstrated to increase oxygen saturation, improve exercise capacity, and reduce hospital stays."

Another study involved 22 lung cancer patients who followed a two-week program before surgery that included breathing exercises, coughing exercises, and walking a minimum of 5,000 steps per day. Patients who followed the program spent 28% less time recovering in post-surgery rehabilitation facilities than patients who underwent a similar surgery without prehabilitation.

"For the most part, the studies on prehabilitative care have involved patients diagnosed with lung cancer and colon cancer," said Silver. "But we think there's a great opportunity to study how targeted interventions can help patients with all types of cancer recover faster and spend less time in the hospital."

One of the key challenges for cancer patients is the time available for prehabilitation. Unlike patients undergoing elective surgeries such as knee replacements, many cancer patients must undergo surgery or other procedures quickly to treat the cancer before it spreads.

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1 comments on "How Prehabilitation Can Improve Outcomes and Reduce Hospital Costs"


Lea Ann Webb (8/19/2013 at 11:11 PM)
From a patient perspective I will say that even introducing the respiratory therapy prior to surgery required of all patients after general anesthesia prior to would be great. In pain and medicated is not an opportune time to learn anything new. Practicing the therapy in advance and deciding how to keep up with the required # of times performed per day would be a great help. When my son had acl reconstruction he was an athlete and therefore needed to shorten his recovery time as much as possible so he was prescribed prehab. He cycled and performed other exercises at the rehab facility and his surgery was not scheduled until his thigh circumference was equal to his non injured leg. My husband has done well since his robot assisted prostatectomy, but he never took the after surgery exercises very seriously. A female patient would have better understood the exercises, because most women know about kagel exercises. Again, after surgery was not the opportune time to learn A new exercise. His surgeon did require him to prehab by walking every day and losing 2 inches of waist circumference. We had carefully chosen the surgeon and it is the only time my husband has ever followed the exercise and diet recommendations of any MD. So yes, any small improvements in this area would be helpful!