July 2, 2008

Prepped for Surgery

Prehabilitation Program a Prelude to Hip or Knee Joint Replacement Surgery

Bobbie Wilton is looking forward to long walks and kicking a ball around
with her nine-year-old granddaughter this summer.

This past winter the 59-year-old pharmacy technician underwent knee replacement surgery. While the recovery continues to be challenging, what Bobbie did before her surgery has made all the difference.

"This is one of the best kept secrets in the city. This really is an excellent program," Wilton said, referring to the Prehabilitation (Prehab) Program offered by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA).

Wilton is one of hundreds of Manitobans who have attended the Prehab program prior to having hip or knee surgery. The Prehab program, a component of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority Surgery Program, is currently offered out of Access River East and the Pan Am Clinic in Winnipeg.

"The Prehab program works towards improving patients' surgical outcomes. Patients get a better understanding and feel more prepared to have their surgery," said Laurie Walus, Program Director, WRHA Surgery Program and Manager, Prehab Program.

"This is one of the best things I have done for myself," said Wilton. "After the surgery they could not believe how strong my limbs were. The strength that it gave my legs by doing the exercises, I was able to do more."

The Program

After an individual and his or her family doctor has provided information about their medical history and current health situation to their surgeon and the Prehab team, the team reviews the information and meets with the individual for an initial assessment, if required. If it is determined that Prehab would be of benefit, the individual is asked to attend the clinic.

Depending on their assessment, the patient may visit the clinic more than once. Areas covered in a patients' Prehab program may include: improving exercise tolerance and strength, improving nutrition for healing and weight loss, increasing ability to manage daily activities, pain management and smoking cessation. While the physical functioning of the patient is an important part of their pre-surgery program, the team also looks at optimizing mental health and well-being and social supports. All these factors may lead to a faster recovery from surgery and potentially decrease complications, Walus said.

Staff members of the Prehab program team include a physiotherapist, occupational therapist, dietician, nurse, medical doctor, pharmacist, social worker and psychologist.

Not all patients waiting for hip or knee surgery need to attend the Prehab clinic, Walus said. In 2007-08 about 56% of people who were needing to attend the program required services either in a clinic or through phone consultations. This service was provided.

Wilton attended the clinic a few times over the course of several months leading up to her surgery, and said the professional advice and individualized programs were instrumental in her recovery. But, in the end, she offers her own advice to those who attending the program.

"It's only as good as what a person is willing to put in. Be prepared to put something into it to get something back. Prehab staff really are trying to prepare you."

For more information about Prehab clinics offered in the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, please call (204) 938-5068 or visit the Prehab website.

- Tammy Melesko


For more health and wellness news, pick up the Summer 2008 edition of Aspire, now available at selected WRHA offices and facilities.

Aspire is also available for download here:

Aspire - Summer 2008

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