If inpatient rehab is on the calendar for you, you’re probably wondering what’s in store. A good place to begin is with the definition of rehabilitation: “The action, process, or result of rehabilitating or of being rehabilitated such as a restoration especially by therapeutic means to an improved condition of physical function.”
Merriam-Webster sums it up nicely, but rehab is actually different for each person. The extent of injury, age, and other extenuating conditions are all factors that affect what rehabilitation will look like. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about what to expect at inpatient rehab.
Q: Once I am admitted to inpatient rehab, how long will I have to stay?
A: Inpatient rehab is not long-term care. Rather, it’s like a therapeutic boot camp where each patient works as hard as they can to rehabilitate the parts of their bodies impacted by illness or injury. Ideally, rehab would last just a few weeks, however, people with certain conditions (brain injuries, amputations, etc.) will require longer to learn or relearn how to speak or walk or use a prosthesis.
Q: When I leave inpatient rehab, will I be exactly like I was before the illness or injury?
A: In many cases, inpatient rehab can help people regain all, or nearly all, of what was lost by their illness or injury. But again, that depends on the person and the affliction. For example, someone suffering a serious fracture will likely have a greater chance of near total recovery than someone who suffered a closed-head injury. Some parts of the body mend better than others and some parts cannot mend at all. In this case, rehab will include learning to use devices like wheelchairs, prosthetics, walkers and so on.
Q: Will life at an inpatient rehab facility be the same as at a skilled nursing facility?
A: Probably not. The two are very different. In our blog, “Senior Health: What’s the Difference Between Rehab and Skilled Nursing?,” we take an in-depth look at the differences between the two and how they are each defined. For example, Medicareresources.org states:
“An inpatient rehabilitation facility is a facility licensed under state laws to provide intensive rehabilitative services. An inpatient rehabilitation facility will be able to provide more intensive rehabilitation than a skilled nursing facility or home-based rehabilitation service.”
Similarly, MedicareInteractive.org provides the following definition of a skilled nursing facility:
“Skilled nursing facility (SNF) care is post-hospital care provided at a SNF. Skilled nursing care includes services such as administration of medications, tube feedings, and wound care. Keep in mind that SNFs can be part of nursing homes or hospitals.”
Q: How much therapy will I be expected to participate in each day?
A: According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Medicare patients must be able to participate in three hours of “intense” rehabilitation each day to be admitted to inpatient rehab. Those with other types of insurance can use the Medicare rule as a guide for expectations.
When you are admitted to inpatient rehab, your therapist(s) will assess you, define your needs and skill levels, and develop a plan to help you increase or maintain your capabilities. If you remain motivated and willing to do your best in therapy sessions, you will likely see better results. Remember, even if it hurts, your therapists are on your side and will reassess your progress regularly. You should always feel free to ask questions or voice any concerns you may have.
Q: What about help with daily personal hygiene needs while I regain my abilities?
A: Inpatient rehab facilities provide staff to help all patients with daily personal hygiene if need be. For some, relearning personal hygiene skills may be included in their rehabilitation plan. Patients can also expect meals, laundry, and other services that vary from facility to facility. In general, services like haircuts, manicures, pedicures, etc. will cost extra.
The purpose of rehab is to concentrate on helping each patient regain as much mobility or other capability as possible in the shortest amount of time. Rehab health professionals are knowledgeable and compassionate people who want their patients to resume normal lives, get back to their friends and families, and continue to improve even after they leave.