What is inpatient rehabilitation?

After a debilitating illness, major surgery, or acute injury, there can often be a long road to recovery, but participation in therapeutic rehabilitation increases the likelihood of regaining full mobility, function, and independence.

Inpatient rehabilitation refers to treatment and services provided in a facility where patients stay for a given period of time. It provides a higher level of care than outpatient or in-home programs, leading to a faster, more complete recovery. In addition to intensive treatment, 24-hour care and high quality equipment and facilities, inpatient rehab also gives patients a break from meal preparation, laundry, and other household chores, allowing them to focus on healing.  

If your doctor has recommended an intensive inpatient rehabilitation program to get you back on your feet, you may have some questions about what that means. Read on to understand more about inpatient rehabilitation and what you can expect moving forward on your journey to recovery.

Who benefits from inpatient rehabilitation?

In general, inpatient rehabilitation may be appropriate for people who have experienced physical trauma, have undergone surgery, or are struggling with an ongoing illness that prevents them from functioning in their current environment. Some conditions that are often treated in inpatient rehab include:

  • Stroke

  • Spinal cord injury

  • Traumatic brain injury

  • Amputation

  • Joint replacement

  • Severe orthopedic injuries

  • Degenerative illness, such as arthritis or Parkinson’s disease

  • Cardiovascular or pulmonary disease

What to expect from inpatient rehabilitation

Because all inpatient rehabilitation treatment plans are individualized, no two people will have the same experience. However, all rehabilitation patients will work with a dedicated team of medical professionals who develop treatment goals, administer therapy, and prioritize patient health, safety, and comfort. The treatment team may include:

  • Doctors

Patients are assigned a primary physician who oversees care, tracks progress, and determines readiness to advance to the next stage of recovery.

  • Physical therapists

Through exercise, training, and specialized treatment modalities, physical therapists help patients to build up strength and alleviate discomfort.

  • Occupational therapists

The goal of occupational therapy is to restore the ability to participate in daily activities of living. This sometimes means using environmental modifications, assistive devices, and adaptive equipment.

  • Speech-language pathologists

For those suffering from a neurological or musculoskeletal condition that affects speech or the ability to swallow, a speech-language pathologist will create a treatment plan designed to optimize functioning.

  • Rehabilitation nurses

Nurses at rehabilitation centers focus on providing a therapeutic environment while treating medical conditions according to each patient’s plan of care.

  • Counselors and psychiatrists

Mental health is an important part of recuperating physically. Inpatient rehabilitation programs provide access to mental health services to help patients develop coping skills and manage stress levels.

Inpatient rehabilitation hospitals vs. skilled nursing facilities

Sometimes, choosing an inpatient rehabilitation facility can be a challenge. While both hospitals and skilled nursing facilities offer inpatient rehabilitation services, the two environments have differing levels of care.

  • Inpatient rehabilitation hospitals, or rehabilitation units, offer intensive therapy and acute care for patients who have more urgent medical needs. They generally have a high nurse to patient ratio and patients receive more focused and frequent attention from doctors. Daily therapy sessions are long, with a required minimum of at least three hours per day, but the average length of stay in an inpatient rehabilitation hospital is rather short.

  • Skilled nursing facilities provide post-acute care in a transitional environment after hospital rehabilitation has ended. Patients in skilled nursing facilities often do not require complex medical care and may not see a physician every day. They may also receive shorter daily therapy sessions, but usually stay for a much longer period of time, from several weeks to several months.

Your medical team can help you decide whether an inpatient rehabilitation hospital or a skilled nursing facility is right for you.

Bella Vista Health Center offers post-acute rehabilitation services

If you’re seeking post-acute inpatient rehabilitation in San Diego, Bella Vista Health Center can bridge the gap between the hospital and home. We offer both short-term rehabilitation and long-term care in a calm and nurturing environment, with a goal of maximizing quality of life for our patients while helping them to live as independently as possible.

For more information about inpatient rehabilitation at our San Diego skilled nursing facility, call us at (619) 399-7920.