One wrong step, one wrong turn or a sudden medical emergency is all it takes to turn your life upside-down. An accident or health problem can put a your life on hold — sometimes long after you’ve sought medical attention.

Fortunately, short-term rehabilitation is a widely used option designed to help you rebound and move on with your life. However, many people being treated for an acute condition know very little about this next step in making a full recovery. 

While rest and recovery are vital after a sudden medical issue or accident, it’s also important to know the ways short-term therapy can help make a smooth transition to the active, healthy lifestyle you once enjoyed.

Getting to Know Short-Term Care

Physical, occupational and speech therapy are the most common three services offered by short-term rehabilitation centers. Some people need all three, while others may simply benefit from one or two of these services. So when choosing your post-hospitalization care provider, take time to know what each care entails and why these specific therapies can create a customized care plan that puts you back in motion.

• Physical therapy provides intensive, fitness-style recovery routines designed to help stimulate and treat injuries, surgical sites and areas suffering from limited mobility. Physical therapists often use state-of-the-art technology, such as aquatic therapy and anti-gravity therapy, to assist patients with safe, pain-free exercise.

• Occupational therapy, often the next step after physical therapy, is designed to help patients return to their activities of daily living (ADL), such as going up a flight of stairs and getting out of bed to preparing meals and cleaning one’s home. Some facilities even offer an “ADL” suite — a unit that often includes a kitchen, bathroom and living room where patients can practice returning to the home environment.

• Speech therapy, also called speech-language pathology, is widely used by individuals recovering from a neurological condition, such as a stroke, Parkinson’s disease and other conditions that impair speech, cognition and/or the ability to swallow food. Speech therapists create a comprehensive plan using computerized games, electrical stimulation and other state-of-the-art therapies, while tracking progress to help patients reach their cognitive and communication goals.


3 Untruths about Short-Term Therapy

Short-term rehabilitation is worth its weight in gold when it comes to getting you back on the right foot. But some myths suggest that you’d be better off recovering at home than paying your PT a visit three days a week. Unless you want a trip back to the hospital, know the many benefits of having a trusted therapy team safely guide you through your recovery plan:

• Myth: I can get stronger on my own. Physical and occupational therapy can help you safely prevent falls and fractures that can happen when you haven’t completely healed. Therapists can also help you return to your desired activity level and will work with you to set personalized goals toward success.

• Myth: Rehab is just too slow. Did you know that short-term therapy can help you recover faster than on your own? In most cases, people return home from inpatient therapy in as little as 30 days — results that aren’t usually possible with rest and relaxation alone.

• Myth: Therapy is too challenging. Therapy is not designed to be difficult. In fact, therapists are skilled at working effectively and efficiently — all at the patient’s pace. In addition, therapy can be fun; these care centers are often full of unique “toys” and state-of-the-art technology that you wont see at your local gym.


Making the Right Choice for the Right Care

Upon discharge, your hospitalist and case manager will likely recommend a post-acute care facility that best suits your condition or diagnosis. And, like you, these medical professionals only want the best for your recovery. But before you enroll in short-term care recommended by your hospital or physician, be your own advocate with these tips:

• Know your options. Do you know if the facility recommended by your care provider is reputable or will meet your personalized needs? When it comes to your care, it’s OK to “shop around” to find the place that’s right for you. Visit the care provider’s website and see for yourself or, if your able, show up in person and ask for a tour.

• Get a bird’s-eye view. Many post-acute and short-term therapy centers offer free tours for future patients. A “try before you buy” approach, take this time to try out state-of-the-art equipment and enjoy the amenities while you get a feel for the environment.

• Plan ahead. Prepare for your care before you leave the hospital. Some rehab providers even allow you to “reserve” your spot before you arrive. Also, location is everything, as physical therapy close to home is a very popular choice. 

• Talk about it. Word of mouth works; family and friends who have had physical therapy can recommend a place that provides both quality comfort and excellent care. Online research can also help you compare reviews from previous patients to help you make the best decision.

So, before you check out of the hospital and the physician discharges you, know what the next step is in your recovery. Just remember — short-term therapy is a proud and trusted option that’s proven to help people just like you turn their wellness and health goals into achievements.

With healthy and active adults in mind, this is an article written by Life Care Centers of America.