Starting rehab before surgery can get injured athletes back on the field faster according to sports medicine experts

by Liz Bonis, WKRC

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CINCINNATI (WKRC) – Local doctors say a newer concept to help with injury repair before surgery could make a big difference in healing afterwards.

The professional football season may be over, but for those who need injury treatment — especially surgery — this method of healing is slowly catching on.

It’s called “prehab,” which means you start the rehabilitation process before an injury is surgically repaired.

“For circumstances, for example, when you have an isolated ACL injury with no meniscus tears, we are going to take two-to-four weeks and make sure your swelling is down, your range of motion is back, your strength has improved to the best it possibly can, and there’s very good data, specifically on ACL injuries, that it’s gonna help you return to play later down the road to help set you up to success,” said OrthoCincy sports medicine specialist Dr. Adam Metzler.

But Dr. Metzler says for young athletes and their parents, prehab can be a bit of a hard sell sometimes.

“I can tell you, in this community, it took a long time to buy into this concept early on,” he said. “It was, ‘If my son or daughter gets into surgery quicker, they can get back to sports quicker.’ We kind of learned the hard way that actually, we need to get the range of motion, strength, and swelling down, that prehab is important.”

Now, prehab isn’t appropriate, Dr. Metzler says, for every injury or athlete, but if it’s not a bone break or another severe injury:

“Then yes,” he said. “That does make sense for our athletes.”