Prehabilitation prior to kidney transplantation: Results from a pilot study

Mara A. McAdams-DeMarco, Hao Ying, Sarah Van Pilsum Rasmussen, Jennifer Schrack, Christine E. Haugen, Nadia M. Chu, Marlís González Fernández, Niraj Desai, Jeremy D. Walston, Dorry L. Segev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Prehabilitation is the process of enhancing preoperative functional capacity to improve tolerance for the upcoming stressor; it was associated with improved postoperative outcomes in a handful of studies, but never evaluated in transplantation. Kidney transplant (KT) candidates may be uniquely suited for prehabilitation because they experience a profound loss of functional capacity while waiting years on dialysis. To better understand the feasibility and effectiveness of prehabilitation in KT, we conducted a pilot study of center-based prehabilitation for candidates; this intervention consisted of weekly physical therapy sessions at an outpatient center with at-home exercises. We enrolled 24 participants; 18 participated in prehabilitation (75% of enrolled; 17% of eligible). 61% were male, 72% were African American, and mean age = 52 (SD = 12.9); 71% of participants had lower-extremity impairment, and 31% were frail. By 2 months of prehabilitation, participants improved their physical activity by 64% (P = 0.004) based on accelerometry. Participants reported high satisfaction. Among 5 prehabilitation participants who received KT during the study, length of stay was shorter than for age-, sex-, and race-matched control (5 vs 10 days; RR = 0.69; 95% CI:0.50-0.94; P = 0.02). These pilot study findings suggest that prehabilitation is feasible in pretransplant patients and may potentially be a strategy to improve post-KT outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere13450
JournalClinical Transplantation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019


  • kidney transplantation
  • prehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transplantation


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