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How Prehabilitation Can Improve Outcomes and Reduce Hospital Costs

Doug Desjardins for HealthLeaders Media, August 14, 2013

"It depends on the type of cancer and also the wishes of the patient, who may choose to have a second or even third opinion before making a decision," said Silver. "But even though the window of opportunity in many cases is small, a lot can be done with even a few weeks."

Smoking cessation programs are one example. "People who stop smoking even for just a short period of time have better recovery times from all types of surgery and shorter hospital stays that result in cost savings," said Silver. Other programs that focus on swallowing exercises have helped patients recover quicker from cancers affecting the neck or throat.

Silver says the most effective approach in cancer patient prehabilitation is to conduct a physical assessment at the time a patient is diagnosed. Based on that information, and the type of surgery the patient plans to undergo, a targeted plan can be created to strengthen specific areas of the body.

"For patients undergoing surgery for prostate cancer, we've shown that exercises that strengthen areas around the pelvis and abdomen can help reduce the incidence of urinary incontinence after surgery," said Silver.

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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!