Prehabilitation is the process of improving a person’s functional abilities and mental resilience ahead of events that are stressful to the body and/ or mental health and wellbeing, in order to minimise impairments, which can occur after these events. Examples of stressful events to the body include planned medical treatments (such as major surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy) but can also apply to unexpected stressors (such as being infected with coronavirus (COVID-19)).
Components of prehabilitation include supported self-management optimising pre-existing health conditions, improving physical function through exercise, nutritional support, optimising social connectedness and psychological wellbeing. The benefits of prehabilitation include empowerment of people before and during their treatment (using a person-centred approach), improved physical and psychological wellbeing, which can improve recovery after events that are stressful to the body, and longer-term benefits for health and wellbeing.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) virus pandemic has resulted in impairments for some people as a result of delayed healthcare treatments and social restrictions (which can lead to decreased physical activity, changes in nutritional intake and decreased psychological wellbeing). As a result, a public health approach to prehabilitation where early intervention for prevention is warranted to maximise resilience and promote general health and wellbeing.