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What Are the Different Types of Rehabilitation Facilities?

Written by Kerry Lange
June 29, 2022
What Are the Different Types of Rehabilitation Facilities?
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Some conditions really require extended care and treatment that available from rehabilitation care or rehab care for short.

There are various types of rehabilitation facilities, each with a focus and level of care. Some services are inpatient rehabilitation facilities, others are outpatient rehabilitation clinics and in some cases there are home-based rehabilitation services. The type of support that’s right for someone depends on their individual needs.

As a caregiver, it's good to know what these services are, when they are available and, in many circumstances, rehabilitation and occupational therapy are covered by insurance.

In cases where someone you care for has had a stroke, a fall, or a brain injury, they may require physical rehabilitation services at a facility to help them recover mobility, agility, strength, and confidence.

People with Parkinson’s disease may find value in rehabilitation programs that focus on strength training techniques so as not to worsen symptoms caused by rigidity from decreased muscle control.

Long-term Acute Care Facilities (LTAC)

Long-term acute care facilities (LTACs) care for patients with complex medical needs. As the name implies, this is an inpatient rehabilitation facility where you stay overnights for a while.

Who goes to long-term acute care?

LTACs are often used when patients from a hospital no longer need the clinical level of care but still need specific care that cannot be provided at home or in a nursing home. Situations like double knee replacement or reconstructive surgeries where people must learn to walk again are good examples.

People in an LTAC may also be adapting to chronic illness or face multiple health problems. A person may need help with activities of daily living, such as eating, swallowing, dressing, and bathing. This is the case with some stroke survivors who have stroke paralysis, a disruption of neural impulses between the brain and the muscles.

According to Medicare.gov

Acute care hospitals provide treatment for patients who stay, on average, more than 25 days. Most patients are transferred from an intensive or critical care unit. Services provided include comprehensive rehabilitation, respiratory therapy, head trauma treatment, and pain management.

What type of specialists work in long-term acute care?

LTACs have teams of specialists who work together on treatment plans for each person. The team may include doctors, nurses, physical or occupational therapists, and other health care professionals like speech therapists.

Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility (IRFs)

Inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRFs) are another type of rehabilitation facility that provides care for patients who are referred from a recent hospital stay and need more time to recover before going home.

Who goes to inpatient rehabilitation facilities?

IRFs are designed to help patients regain their independence. The care team at an IRF makes a custom rehabilitation plan with measurable milestones. Inpatient rehabilitation facilities provide around-the-clock care for people recovering from severe injuries or illnesses.

Some examples of specific conditions that may require an inpatient rehab stay are: Some situations that might require inpatient care include:

  • Hip fracture or replacement mobility issues
  • Joint replacement surgery or other orthopedic procedures
  • A stroke that resulted in significant impairments
  • Heart attack or cardiac surgery
  • Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer's disease, or dementia
  • COPD or other types of pulmonary disease
  • Hospitalized for diabetes complications

From the Medicare government website:

Your doctor must certify that you have a medical condition requiring intensive rehabilitation, continued medical supervision, and coordinated care from your doctors and therapists working together.

According to occupational therapist Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L, of Emory Healthcare in Atlanta and founder of MyOTSpot.com,

“Inpatient rehabilitation is the most aggressive, with patients having 3 hours a day of therapy about five days per week.” The length of stay at an IRF will vary from patient to patient. Some patients only need a few days of care, while others require a few weeks.

What type of specialist is at inpatient rehabilitation facilities?

Inpatient rehab centers typically have registered nursing staff specializing in rehabilitative services.

There is still a close relationship between hospital medical staff, doctors, and nurses with physical or occupational therapists. In this way, it is similar to a long-term acute care facility.

Skilled Nursing Facility (SNFs)

Skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) are rehabilitation centers that provide care for people who need skilled nursing or rehabilitation services. SNFs may be stand-alone facilities or part of a larger hospital complex.

Who goes to skilled nursing facilities?

A skilled nursing facility is necessary when an individual can no longer complete activities of daily living (ADLs) on their own and requires assistance. The most common reason a person needs an SNF is that they are recovering from surgery, illness, or injury and need help with activities such as bathing, dressing, using the bathroom, and eating. Some people also need skilled nursing care if they have a chronic illness such as dementia, heart failure, or diabetes.

What type of specialists are at skilled nursing facilities?

As the name implies; nurses. Services typically provided in an SNF include 24-hour RN coverage, Physical Therapy , Occupational Therapy, and Speech Therapy.

How Physical and Occupational Therapy Helps

Physical rehabilitation facilities offer medical care and therapies to help patients recover from an injury or illness. There are many different types of treatments, but the goal of each one is to help patients regain their independence.

The role of therapy in getting patients stronger is to help them regain lost function and improve their quality of life. Therapies in physical rehabilitation facilities are a vital part of this process, as they can help patients relearn how to perform everyday activities and confidently build up their strength. All these therapies aim to help the patient live as independently as possible.

“They are instrumental in working together to address each client’s deficits and improve independence and their level of function,” Stromsdorfer says.
  • Occupational therapy primarily helps patients regain the ability to perform activities of daily living. Occupational therapists teach patients how to do everyday tasks, such as dressing, eating, and bathing.
  • Speech therapy helps patients regain their ability to communicate. In addition, speech therapists work with patients to help them improve their speaking skills.
  • Physiotherapists help to regain movement in their limbs.
  • Physical therapy helps patients regain their strength and mobility using exercises and other techniques to help patients improve their movement.
Older adult woman consults with a Physical therapist who is tracking her progress

Find Options for Rehabilitation Services

As a family caregiver, you should be familiar with all the options for rehabilitation services to ensure your loved ones get the best care they need.

According to Stromsdorfer, the hospital’s therapist assesses the patient’s level of function and determines the best rehab for their case.

“Don’t feel alone in this decision, as your acute care therapists and case managers are trained to help you with this decision,” she added.

If you find it hard to decide the best rehab options, it is better to ask for help from a circle of care that may include family members, friends, and the community. With this, our CircleOf app can help. We keep you connected with your support networks and even provide resources to discover new caregiving tools, experts, and information.

When you’re overwhelmed with family caregiving ideas, download the app (for FREE) and get things done stress-free.

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