Inpatient physical therapy offers intensive rehabilitation therapy and comprehensive care to people who are affected by functional and/or medical difficulties. Common examples of when it is needed are the aftermath of a serious accident, illness or injury, during recovery from a stroke or cardiac event, or during surgical recovery, particularly orthopedic procedures. So how do you know if inpatient physical therapy is right for you?
Here are some important questions to ask yourself and your medical care providers to help you decide:
Are my rehabilitation and/or medical needs complex?
If your circumstances call for a higher level of care and more intensive rehabilitative therapy than you could realistically expect to receive at home and/or through outpatient services, inpatient physical therapy is likely your best bet for a safe and successful recovery. Examples of such situations include people who have had a heart attack, stroke, multiple injuries or a complex surgery, such as a fracture repair or joint replacement. Individuals who may have a higher risk of complications during recovery/rehabilitation due to chronic health problems, like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or osteoporosis, for example, may also be best suited for inpatient rehabilitative care.
That's because choosing inpatient physical therapy means receiving 24 hour nursing care and medical monitoring, as well as a minimum of 3 hours of rehabilitative therapy daily. You will also have consistent access to rehabilitation physicians, pain management specialists, physical, occupational and speech therapists, nutritionists and other members of the multidisciplinary team of rehabilitation and medical professionals that will be responsible for your care.
Do I have significant impairments that might make going straight home from the hospital difficult and/or unsafe?
People are discharged from hospitals more often today than they used to be, and that means they are leaving before they feel confident in their ability to care for themselves at home. This can create an unsafe or difficult situation, especially for those who live alone or would spend time alone during the day while other members of the household are working. If you foresee difficulties safely managing things like getting around the house, bathing, dressing, keeping track of medications, preparing meals, caring for surgical wounds, and getting back and forth to outpatient therapy and medical appointments, inpatient physical therapy is the right choice so that you can have the best and safest recovery.
Is minimizing recovery/rehabilitation time a priority?
Do you need to get back on your feet and back to your normal activities as quickly as possible? Perhaps you have an urgent need to get back to work, or you have pressing family/personal obligations that just can't wait. Choosing the more intensive rehabilitative treatment and therapy that an inpatient physical therapy program has to offer can speed your progress towards recovery and rehabilitation, getting you back in shape and back to your life more quickly than would likely be possible with outpatient therapy services.