A Vital Role For Future Success
Rehabilitation therapy is described as the “therapeutic, healing treatment that a patient receives after any kind of illness or injury.” The severity of the patient condition may vary, but the goals are always the same: to help patients get back to or as close to prior level of functional as possible. Rehabilitation involves a plan of care with very individualized, obtainable goals developed by therapists with patient input. Ultimately, for success with a rehab program, commitment is required from both the patient and the multi-disciplinary team.
Whether recovering from a stroke, car accident, or knee replacement surgery, there would likely be many different types of therapies involved with the case. Physical therapy (PT) involves things like bed mobility, transfer, ambulation, stair, and balance training. PT also does a lot of work with strengthening and range of motion of the lower extremities. Occupational therapy (OT) involves activities of daily living (ADLs) like feeding, grooming, hygiene, dressing, toileting and bathing. OT also does a lot of work with strengthening and range of motion of the upper extremities. Speech therapy (ST) involves mainly training in improving either cognition and/or swallowing. Respiratory therapy (RT) involves improving breathing and endurance through pulmonary rehabilitation, which may include supplemental oxygen use to nebulizer treatments. Rehab therapists work jointly on a patient’s case in order to manage an effective rehabilitation program.
Rehabilitation therapy can take place in many types of settings, but usually follows this path of care: acute hospital therapy, in-patient rehab therapy, home health therapy, and outpatient clinic therapy. The length of time at each of the levels is dependent upon severity of condition, rate of healing, medical stability, and progress within the therapy plan of care. For some, the entire course of therapy may only last weeks, but for some others the full course of therapy could take months to years.
Rehab therapists also play a role in recommending any necessary adaptations/modifications to allow patients to compensate for limitations. For example, physical therapists may recommend an assistive device like a walker to allow a patient to walk with less assistance. An occupational therapist might recommend that grab bars be installed in a patient bathroom to ensure safety with showering. Rehab therapy plays a vital role in setting patients up for future success even after they have been discharged from therapy services.
As noted, there are many different facets to rehabilitation therapy and many benefits that can be gleaned from the process. In general, patients that have participated in a rehab program leave it with improved health, strength, movement and safety. In addition, patients graduate with less pain and more confidence. Rehabilitation therapy has been proven through research and outcomes to impact patients lives in a positive way in which individuals can maximize potential to live their lives to the fullest.
Leanna Bahwell is the director of rehab for Lutheran Home in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Visit online at LutheranHome.org.