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After Hospital Rehab: Your Questions Answered

Updated: Nov 4, 2022

If you or a loved one is currently hospitalized, you've probably heard people discussing if they need rehab before going home. The rehab process is a bit complex, but is a vital part in many people's return to normal life. Below I'll explain the process in a bit more detail. Please comment or email me with any questions.

1. Who needs it?

People who are sick enough for hospitalization, who have developed weakness or experienced a neurological or musculoskeletal trauma and need help with strengthening and learning how to best use their body before being safe and independent at home.

2. What does it entail?

Depending on the setting, the individual may receive anywhere from 1-3 hours a day of therapy services including speech therapy (working on speech, cognition, and swallowing), occupational therapy (working on activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, and food preparation), and physical therapy (working on mobility tasks such as getting in and out of bed or chairs, and walking).

3. When will it be over?

There are multiple phases of the rehab process, stays in a rehab facility are usually under a month, and are followed by care in skilled nursing, home health rehab, or outpatient therapy. Rehab will continue until goals are met, progress plateaus, or insurance decides to stop paying (but there are private pay options as well).

4. Where does it occur?

Typically, for those with major changes in mobility related to their hospitalization, the post hospital rehab either happens in an Acute Care Rehab Hospital or a Subacute Rehab Facility (often a skilled nursing facility). These are inpatient facilities where the patient spends a lot of time working with therapies to help get the patients back home.

Acute Care Rehab is more intensive and requires the ability to handle 3 hours of therapy a day with a team-based approach. Subacute Rehab is somewhat less intensive and more appropriate for those with lower activity tolerance. The goals of the inpatient facilities are to maximize patient’s independence to allow for a safe return home.

After Inpatient rehab stays, often patients come home with the services of a Home Health Agency. To qualify for “Home Health”, the patient must be considered homebound. This means the goals of the home health rehab team are to help the patient be independent in their home and progress to a level where they are no longer homebound. This type of therapy is great for adapting for your environment.

Following Home Health, you may not feel that you are back to “normal” yet. At that point, you likely qualify for Outpatient Rehabilitation. These services are generally provided by separate companies for PT/OT/ST, and can be provided in a standalone clinic, telehealth, or by home visits. In the Outpatient setting, your end goals are key. Getting back to work, school, and recreational activities may be addressed in an outpatient setting along with continued work on activities of daily living, balance, and strength.

Move Free Physical Therapy at Home provides virtual and in home Outpatient Physical Therapy services for the convenience of our patients and to reduce the barrier to rehab that is lack of transportation.

5. Why is it needed?

Some physical conditions get better on their own with time, however once your mobility is limited to where it is difficult to get around and do your day-to-day tasks, it becomes much less likely that you will be able to recover by doing “normal life” on your own. The rehab process is designed to help you work through the challenges your condition has brought, and maximize your functional return to a sense of normalcy.

If you have more questions, I’d love to speak with you! Send us an email or give us a call!

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