Do patients who commit to inpatient rehabilitation programs fare better in terms of recovery than patients who use outpatient physical therapy programs? A number of research studies suggest that they do. So just what is behind those better results? Here we'll look into the basics of inpatient rehab programs, including how they differ from outpatient or home-based services and why those differences often lead to better recovery results.
About Inpatient Rehab
Inpatient rehabilitation programs offer comprehensive, specialized, intensive and highly-focused care and support to patients in need of physical rehabilitation after a traumatic injury or illness, surgery, or other event that leaves them with functional limitations. This includes patients who are recovering from a cardiac event or surgery, stroke, a motor-vehicle accident, a fall, orthopedic surgery, sports injuries, or joint replacement, among many other conditions.
Inpatient rehabilitation programs offer patients the services of an interdisciplinary team of medical professionals, all trained in and focused on helping them heal, recover, improve health and well-being, regain skills and abilities they've lost, or learn new ones to compensate for any long or short term disabilities they may have acquired. That specialized rehabilitation team generally includes physicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech and language pathologists, recreational therapists, counselors, nutritionists, nursing staff and case managers, among other professionals, depending upon the needs of each patient.
Each patient is thoroughly evaluated by this team of rehabilitation specialists, who will, with the input of the patient and/or family members and the patient's own health care team, formulate a comprehensive rehabilitation plan designed to meet their individual needs. Patients are then treated according to that plan, each receiving a minimum of three hours of therapy per day to help them meet their recovery and rehabilitation goals.
The Benefits of Inpatient Rehab Compared to Other Options
The sort of comprehensive and intensive rehabilitation therapy offered by inpatient rehab programs offers a number of advantages over other rehabilitation options. Inpatient rehab offers a more coordinated approach than outpatient options, with all professionals involved with the care and rehabilitation of the patient under one roof, rather than scattered throughout several medical offices, enabling more effective communication and care. Patients have access to medical care and therapists, as well as therapeutic equipment and facilities, 24 hours a day while in inpatient therapy, rather than two or three times a week common to outpatient or home-based therapy. Dedicated rehabilitation facilities typically have a greater amount and variety of equipment and facilities available to patients than outpatient or home-based rehab services. These and other advantages of inpatient services often lead to better, faster progress towards rehabilitation and recovery goals.
Of course, inpatient rehab requires a larger commitment in terms of time and hard work than outpatient services would, and there is also the aspect of spending your recovery time in a facility, rather than the privacy and comfort of your own home. However, given the faster, more effective results that their brand of coordinated, comprehensive and intensive therapy can offer, most patients find that the benefits of inpatient rehab outweigh those potential drawbacks.