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What is Rehabilitation Healthcare?

By Sandra Koehler
Updated May 17, 2024
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Rehabilitation healthcare is a growing component of today’s healthcare system. In general, rehabilitation healthcare is a blanket term to describe healthcare facilities or programs which assist individuals to return to good health or a normal life through therapy or training. There are rehabilitation centers for the recovery of a variety health issues including disease and illness recovery as well as injuries and addictions.

Each category of rehabilitation healthcare has specific goals and treatment or therapy protocols dependent on the nature and severity of need. This form of rehab can be performed as an outpatient if the patient is at least partially independent in their life or physical skills. More severe cases where the patient is either physically or mentally incapable of performing activities of daily living are typically treated as an inpatient.

Rehabilitation healthcare ranges according to need. Some ailments, such as sports injuries and injuries from falls, require short-term rehab. This is where the patient is typically treated as an inpatient for a few days to a few weeks until they are able to return to most daily activities. Subacute rehab, a rehabilitation plan also devised to return the patient to normal daily activities at home, is used with people who have recently suffered a medical condition or injury and not fully recovered. Some medical conditions requiring subacute rehab include such things as cardiac incidences.

Rehabilitation healthcare services also include long-term rehab. Long-term rehab are for those individuals suffering from a debilitating ailment or disease process which requires extensive therapy and rehab to return to a normal life. Some injuries and diseases which require long-term rehab include severe traumatic brain injuries from such things as car accidents and strokes, alzheimer's dementia and spinal cord injuries.

Many facilities of the aging population have rehabilitation healthcare services to recover from an injury, like a fall, or to maximize overall independence when suffering through a specific ailment. Physical and occupational therapy are used to regain or rebuild motor skills, and speech therapy services to regain the ability to eat with some independence while minimizing the risk of choking. Recreational therapy is also often utilized in these types of settings to help patients regain social interaction and independence.

People suffering from drug or alcohol dependency or abuse can also benefit from rehabilitation healthcare services. This form of treatment can be performed as an inpatient or outpatient depending on the severity of abuse and underlying complications that may arise from a chemical dependency. Many times drug rehab employs the use of behavioral modifications to help the patient resist the temptation to drink or use drugs.

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