After suffering a serious illness or recovering from surgery or a debilitating injury, rehabilitation therapy may be prescribed to help you get to back to life; regain the ability to do normal activities.
Some rehabilitation therapies are prescribed for the short term, and others must be followed for life. There are many forms of rehab therapy, and one or a combination of several may be prescribed depending on the injury, illness or surgery.
Restoring physical functioning; walking and range of motion, are two examples of physical therapy. People who have trouble walking and maintaining balance or those who have pain when moving may benefit greatly from physical therapy. Physical therapists work closely with patients to provide exercises that will help them increase their tolerance. Almost all forms of physical therapy will include exercise to improve flexibility, coordination and strength. This may include weightlifting, stretching or walking on a treadmill. People who benefit from this form of therapy are:
- chronic pain sufferers,
- stroke patients, or
- those who are recovering from sports or neurological accident injuries
Although most people do experience some form of pain during these sessions, the pain generally gets better with further treatment.
The sole goal of Occupational therapy (OT) is to help people develop skills that promote independence, following injuries and illnesses. Since the majority of people who require OT are disabled in some way because of injury or illness, one of the aims of therapy is to help them adapt to the environment with their handicap (or injury). Another is to teach them how to modify certain tasks. This helps patients maintain a place in an active society.
According to research at Ithaca College, occupational therapists use the occupations of self-care, work and leisure activities to increase independence, enhance development and prevent disability. Before any goals are established for treatment, the occupational therapist examines the patient’s condition and talks about their future and present expectations.
Vision therapy is an individualized treatment for people with eye problems that cause disruptions to everyday activities. These conditions include crossed eyes, lazy eye, and trouble focusing.
In a vision therapy session, the patient will undergo 45 minutes of eye exercises up to three times per week. According to the Eye Institute, many of these visual problems will be eliminated after 15 to 20 visits, although complicated problems could require additional time. Vision therapy is often given by doctors of optometry in an eye clinic setting, although some doctors may have outpatient clinics specifically for this therapy. After a thorough examination, the doctor will determine how many treatments are necessary and what goals the patient should be working toward.
Speech-language therapy is used to treat any disorder that causes trouble with speech, swallowing or communication. People who have a speech impediment, who have recovered from a stroke or who have injuries that affect the muscles or nerves in the mouth, may need speech-language therapy to improve their speaking. In a speech-language therapy session, patients will practice making certain sounds, will learn how to position their mouths to articulate properly, and will practice swallowing exercises. Those who have the most benefit in speech-language therapy are patients who have:
- cleft palate
- hearing impairments
- language delays
- physical disabilities
- voice problems
- throat cancer
Certain neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, may also cause trouble with speaking, so speech-language therapy may be used in these situations as well.
Although the name sounds scary, aggressive therapy is one of the most successful methods of rehab therapy. The term “aggressive”comes from the eagerness that the patient and doctor have for treating the condition as soon as possible. This means using multiple forms of treatment at the same time. A person undergoing aggressive therapy may be taking medication along with using other measures that include radiation therapy, surgery and physical therapy. Aggressive therapy is normally reserved for those who need life-saving treatment or those who are undergoing a sudden change in lifestyle due to severe limitations.
Any of these five rehab therapies may be useful on their own, but some physicians recommend multiple therapies to their patients to improve recovery times. The success rates with each therapy depends on the patient’s condition and underlying medical history.