If you’ve had or are about to have a major surgery or medical procedure, you know how important it is to be as informed as possible before going in. Regardless of what you’re having done, you need to be aware of all the things that can, will and should happen before, during and after the procedure. This gives you expectations, things to look for and things to be concerned about when and if they occur. For this reason, most doctors and hospitals insist upon some pre-surgery education classes or even physical therapy classes to prepare you for what you may experience. For instance, if you’re having a joint replacement procedure at Blount Memorial, you’ll very likely have to go to what’s known as “joint school” to learn what you need to know prior to surgery. It’s standard practice, and many insurance providers even require it. Until recently, though, there was nothing like this available for men who were having a prostatectomy – or removal of all or part of the prostate gland – due to various issues including prostate cancer.
Blount Memorial Total Rehabilitation physical therapist Candace Jarrett says that recently has changed. “Having physical therapy and education classes for prostatectomy patients is a relatively new trend,” she said. “All across the country, pre-prostatectomy physical therapy programs are helping men prepare for the road to recovery that lies in front of them. Generally speaking, these classes help decrease anxiety and increase understanding of potential problems and the treatments to help those problems, all while helping them gain a greater understanding of how to properly perform exercises that will be extremely important for their progress after the procedure,” she explained. “Aside from normal surgical issues, some common after effects from a prostatectomy are temporary or sometimes-permanent urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction. Most patients recover urine control, but the urinary leakage has a significant negative impact on their quality of life during the two-year recovery period,” she added.
But, Jarrett says, the one-on-one program can help. “The session can help them prepare for the complications because they will be educated about these effects and will be able to better understand the healing process. It also will teach them the proper way of performing the exercises to help them regain control of their urine, as well as educate them about the options available to address incontinence and erectile dysfunction,” she said. “They also will receive individualized strengthening for the pelvic muscles, biofeedback to help correct exercise techniques and education regarding post-surgery leakage strategies,” she explained. “The general thinking is the same as a ‘joint school’ class in that a man who starts to learn how to train his pelvic floor muscles 30 days before surgery is going to have a 30-day advantage over the man who waits to do this after surgery. They will have the opportunity to learn about and prepare for post-op care, become more familiar with the tools and equipment they may need after surgery, and they’ll be able to personalize their post-op programs using their pre-testing baselines. Ultimately, this leads to less fear and stress before the operation because we’re increasing the patient’s confidence and decreasing his anxiety. Getting your pelvic muscles stronger before surgery also helps you return to normal body functions earlier, often by several months, when compared to men who have no pre-surgical preparation. That is something worth fighting for.” she added.
For more information about Blount Memorial Total Rehabilitation’s MEND pre-prostatectomy therapy program, call 865-980-6118 or 865-980-5089.