What is Prehabilitation? 

Prehabilitation is an element of rehabilitation where your journey to recovery starts before surgery has even begun through physical, nutritional and psychological support.

It introduces some steps you can take to help you prepare for your upcoming surgery. The actions you take now can help your recover more quickly and reduce the time you spend in hospital. Many people are glad to know they can do something immediately to help their health.


Benefits of Prehabilitation

  • Reduce length of stay in hospital.
  • Enhance recovery following treatment.
  • Reduce post-op complications.
  • Provide an opportunity to stop smoking and drinking alcohol .
  • Improve fitness.
  • Improve nutritional health.
  • Enhance quality of life.

Prehabilitation can provide

  • Personal empowerment: A sense of control and purpose, which prepares you for surgery and improves your quality of life.
  • Physical and emotional strength: An opportunity to improve physical function and emotional wellbeing, which offers resilience to the effects of surgery, enhances the quality of recovery and helps you to live life as fully as you can.
  • Long-term health: An opportunity to reflect on the role of healthy lifestyle practices after a cancer diagnosis, to promote positive health behaviour change.

The benefits of prehabilitation can be seen in as little as two weeks.

TOP MEDTALK Mental wellbeing

What is involved?

There are many aspects to prehabilitation but some of the main areas of focus are outlined below. You can find our more about individual areas on our dedicated pages. 

Breathing focus

  • Physiotherapy leaflet 
  • Oral hygiene

Get active 

Aim for 30 minutes of aerobic activity daily, to include moderate to brisk walking, jogging, swimming, cycling - can be done in ten minute sessions

Muscle strengthening

  • Gardening, housework
  • Resistance bands, sit to stand, lift weights

Eat well 

  • Maintain a stable weight
  • Try to eat a healthy and nutritious diet in the weeks leading up to your surgery.

Live well

  • Stop smoking
  • Alcohol - NHS Scotland guidelines are a maximum of 14 units a week
  • Manage anxiety and low mood and improve quality of life
  • Sleep well

See this Macmillan Exercise video which applies to before surgery too!

We hope that you find Prehabilitation gives you tools that you can use to positively impact your upcoming surgery and guide you to take control of your health and wellbeing.

Your healthcare team are here to help and support you please contact us if you need support or advice at any point and any question that is important to you is important to us.

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