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What Is Rehab? Facts About Physical Rehabilitation

Imagine having to learn how to walk again or to tie your shoes. What if you couldn’t stand alone or take yourself to the bathroom? These are just a few scenarios facing patients who are going through physical rehabilitation.

In an effort to honor patients who encounter situations like these and the clinicians who help them on the road to recovery, National Rehabilitation Awareness Week was established in 1976. Celebrated during the third week of September, National Rehabilitation Awareness Week is a chance to familiarize yourself with some little-known facts about physical rehabilitation.

Physical rehabilitation isn’t just for broken bones.

A broken leg? A new knee? Most people associate conditions like these will physical rehabilitation. But inpatient rehabilitation hospitals offer intensive therapy services for patients recovering from a variety of neurological, musculoskeletal, and orthopedic conditions. These can include traumatic brain injuries, stroke, spinal cord injuries, sports injuries, amputations, chronic pain and general disability.

There are different kinds of rehabilitation facilities

An acute rehabilitation hospital, also referred to as an inpatient rehabilitation hospital, is a highly specialized hospital that offers intensive therapy services for patients. One of the main differences between an acute rehabilitation facility and a sub-acute rehabilitation hospital is that patients at an acute rehabilitation facility will receive a minimum of three hours of therapy five to seven days per week. A sub-acute facility does not necessarily offer this type of therapy.

Rehabilitation facilities include everyone from physical therapists to psychologists

Most patients receiving treatment in an inpatient physical rehabilitation facility will receive therapy services from a multidisciplinary team to address all facets of their recovery. These team members can include everyone from physicians, nurses, and case managers to psychologists and dietitians. Each of these clinicians plays an important role in the recovery process, and works collaboratively to ensure the success of the patient.

At an inpatient physical rehabilitation facility, patients won’t be discharged until the goals of this multidisciplinary team of clinicians have been met. Although the length of stay can vary, the average length of stay for patients is roughly 20 days.

Therapy can seem like fun, but it has a purpose

Intensive therapy services like equestrian therapy, aquatic therapy, and driving rehabilitation programs may look more like fun than hard work. But these activities use specialized training, technology, and equipment to promote a faster recovery for physical rehabilitation patients.

It can be difficult, but it’s worthwhile

Physical rehabilitation can be physically and emotionally intense. During their stay at an inpatient rehabilitation center, many patients comment on how difficult therapy is and their fear of returning home and facing obstacles they may not be prepared for.

However, in most cases, patients are grateful for how physical rehabilitation helped them regain their sense of self and independence, and express that the benefits of return home far outweigh their fears. It may be intense, but rehabilitation can be a very positive experience.

This content originally appeared at


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