Prehabilitation ("Prehab") helps improve health and prepare a patient for the challenges of an upcoming treatment. A person’s treatment plan and personal needs guide what prehabilitation will look like and what professionals will be involved. As a general matter, prehab often includes exercise, nutrition guidance, and psychological preparation.
Part of the theory behind rehab is that the stronger you are before treatment starts, the stronger you will be when treatment ends. Dr. Julie Silver, a prime advocate of prehab (and rehabilitation, "rehab") likens prehab to giving a patient an umbrella before going into the storm.
A few examples of prehab are:
- For men with prostate cancer, prehab teaches how to do kegel exercise, an exercise which lessens the likelihood of incontinence after surgery.Learning the exercise ahead of time gives a patient knowledge about what the exercise should feel like, which helps after surgery.
- For people who smoke, even stopping smoking two weeks before surgery or other treatment has been shown to be beneficial. Prehab in this instance involves counseling and classes in smoking cessation techniques. (For tips about how to stop smoking, click here.)
- Muscle strengthening before surgery.
Prehab may be covered by health insurance when provided by a professional,
If you are not offered prehab before the start of treatment, it is advisable to check to see if there is a Survivorship Training and Rehabilitation ("STAR") program near you by going to www.oncologyrehabpartners.com. Click on the survivor section, then enter your zip code,
NOTE: Prehab should not delay treatment. Prehab is only provided if there is time before treatment would otherwise start.
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