Has your health care team suggested rehabilitative therapy to help you get back in shape after serious medical challenges or surgery? If so, you have probably already discovered that there are two basic options for getting the therapy you need; enrolling in an inpatient short term rehab program or making use of outpatient rehabilitative services. So which would be best for you? That depends on your individual circumstances, and here are some situations when it may be wise to choose short term rehab over outpatient therapy.
When recovering from stroke
According to the American Stroke Association, clinical evidence shows that stroke survivors make the best functional gains when intensive rehabilitative therapy is provided via comprehensive, tightly-coordinated care from a large, multidisciplinary team of rehabilitation specialists. For this reason, they recommend inpatient short term rehab as the optimal environment for stroke recovery and rehabilitation rather than the more fragmented approach common to outpatient services.
When rehabilitation/medical needs are complex
Individuals who have complex needs as they recover from an accident, injury, illness, surgery, heart attack or other types of serious medical events are generally best served by an inpatient short term rehab program. Among the many reasons for this is that the inpatient setting allows for more comprehensive and intensive treatment than is possible with outpatient services. This includes 24-hour medical monitoring and access to rehabilitation doctors, nurses and pain management specialists to address complex medical needs, as well as a minimum of 3 hours of daily therapy time to address complex rehabilitative needs as quickly, safely and efficiently as possible. Examples of such situations include people for whom recovery may be complicated by underlying health conditions – diabetes, hypertension, heart disease or osteoporosis, for instance – or individuals who have significant functional impairments to overcome in order to regain their best level of independence.
When managing at home may be difficult and/or unsafe
Today's shorter hospital stays mean that many people are discharged before they feel ready to take on the challenges of caring for themselves at home. For individuals facing these circumstances, short term rehab can provide them with a buffer between hospital discharge and home, giving them time to get better prepared to manage daily activities and self care safely and without undue hardship.
When juggling numerous appointments every week is not practical
Outpatient therapy means traveling to and from appointments at rehabilitation clinics or therapists' offices anywhere from 1 to 5 days per week, depending upon individual needs and treatment plans. For many people, juggling those appointments can be a hardship – especially those for whom medical restrictions include a prohibition against driving or those that must travel significant distances to access these services. Under such circumstances, inpatient short term rehab can be the more practical option, ensuring that these difficulties do not endanger a person's ability to get the rehabilitative treatment they need to make their best recovery.
When minimizing recovery time is a priority
Individuals who need to get back on their feet and back to their lives as quickly as possible, whether that need stems from personal reasons or professional ones, can minimize their recovery time by using an inpatient short term rehab program. Since the inpatient setting offers more intensive and comprehensive treatment than is typical of outpatient services, progress towards meeting recovery and rehabilitation goals generally happens more quickly.
These examples can provide some guidance as you weigh your treatment options. However, your final decision should be made with the help and guidance of your healthcare team, who will be most familiar with your personal needs and circumstances.