Pre-hab is the term coined for physical preparation before surgery. In the past 2 years, the effectiveness of pre-hab has been researched significantly, and its role in the success of patients returning to pre-injury function post anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction – particularly return to sport – has been widely acknowledged.
An important statistic: Successful return to sport at pre-injury level following ACL reconstruction is approximately 55% at 12 months post-op, and 62% at 24 months post-op (Nyland et al 2016). This often leads to a less active lifestyle, and significantly affects the a person's lifestyle.
Maybe Failing to prepare = Preparing to fail? Grindem et al (2015) found successful return to pre-injury sport correlated highly with a structured pre-habilitation program, especially focusing on strength, quality of movement, and other specific risk factors associated with the individual. Several other experts have also found similar results, citing shorter post-op rehabilitation periods and greater proportion of patients returning to pre-injury sport (Grindem et al 2015).
A structured pre-habilitation program provides benefit for anyone with a planned ACL reconstruction, not just athletes. The established benefits include (Grindem et al 2015):
- reduced post-op pain
- earlier normalisation of gait (walking) and functional tasks such as squatting
- reduced time off work
- earlier return to pre-injury lifestyle such as mowing the lawn, physical occupational work, and sport
Pre-habilitation is an investment that is well worth making as it will significantly increase the likelihood of a successful return to pre-injury sport or activity.
A sports physiotherapist with knowledge and experience in this field is best suited to guide the pre-habilitation process.