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Do I Really Need the Recommended Short Term Rehabilitation?
Chelsea Sayegh

By: Chelsea Sayegh on March 9th, 2017

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Do I Really Need the Recommended Short Term Rehabilitation?

Aging & Caregiving

When a loved one has medical needs that require a more concentrated level of care, their doctor might recommend short term rehabilitation. But what does that mean, and is it really necessary?


For the most part, aging relatives can receive the care they need by keeping up with their regular doctor visits, and dutifully taking all prescribed medications. However, when something more serious comes along, it becomes very important for your loved one to have access to a greater amount of professional care. This is where a senior rehabilitation center comes in.


Many caretakers already see themselves as being very involved in the daily healthcare needs of their loved ones, so being asked to take a backseat to medical professionals can seem like unfamiliar territory. It makes perfect sense that a caretaker would want to completely understand what short-term rehabilitation is and why it is needed.

Here's a breakdown of everything you need to know.

What is Short Term Rehab?

short term rehabShort-term rehabilitation is around-the-clock medical care and therapeutic services designed to help a person recover from an illness, surgery, or accident. The desired end result is to get the patient back up to a level where they will no longer need such focused care and therapy – hence "short-term." On average, short-term rehabilitation lasts a few weeks, but on rare occasions, can sometimes extend up to 100 days. Medicare and other insurance may cover part or all of this rehab, depending on the patient's need and coverage level.

Medical staff, including doctors and nurses, are on-site to monitor recovery and administer care. Short-term rehab centers are always staffed 24 hours a day and are therefore able to respond to an emergency or a setback at any time. This immediate availability of medical attention is a very important part of a successful recovery.

The inpatient setting also allows patients to have continual access to physical, occupational, and speech therapy as needed. The main goal of any rehab facility is to facilitate the transition home for the patient. Depending on the nature and severity of the health issue, certain types of therapy may be required. Therapy activities help patients regain strength, coordination, balance, good circulation, and stamina, ensuring that they can safely get back to their familiar routine.

Short-term rehab is not done in a hospital setting, but rather in a more inviting and comfortable facility. The combination of medical care and therapy is shown to help patients recover more quickly and completely.

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Who Needs Short Term Rehab?

short term rehabilitationIf this is the first time short-term rehab has been recommended for your loved one, it is perfectly understandable that you might be hesitant to jump on board without understanding the reasons behind the recommendation. Typically, doctors will recommend this course of action if the health problems being faced by your loved one are more than you can handle at home as a caretaker and more than your loved one can handle on their own.

There are a number of medical conditions for which short-term rehab may be recommended by a healthcare provider. Those might include the following:

  • Surgical and Medical Recovery – If your loved one requires surgery, short-term rehab may be recommended to help them fully recover from the procedure. For the aged, even relatively minor surgery can require some extra care, and the professionals at the rehab facility will be able to accommodate them.

    Other times, a prolonged illness or infection may leave your loved ones in need of additional support in order to make a full recovery. Having medical professionals around them at all times will ensure that they continue to get well.
  • Orthopedics and Joint Replacement – Joint replacement is major surgery, and a person recovering from it is often in need of extended physical therapy. These exercises will help strengthen the muscles, increase circulation, and minimize pain or the risk of complications.

    Of course, orthopedic patients also require physical and occupational therapy to help ensure that their bones and muscles recover properly and remain healthy.
  • Heart Failure – Heart failure patients need specialized care and monitoring to make sure that their symptoms are being managed. Physical therapy can help increase their activity level appropriately, and a healthy diet will be designed and provided to help mitigate complications and promote healthy weight loss if their doctor recommends it.
  • Cardiac and Pulmonary Care – Cardiac and pulmonary patients require close monitoring and continual access to medical professionals. A short-term rehab facility can provide this for them, while also caring for their other physical needs. Patients will receive medications, therapies, nutrition, and physical activity as prescribed by their physician.
  • Respiratory Rehabilitation - Patients with ongoing breathing problems will receive a broad spectrum of rehabilitative care allowing them to function and breathe at the highest possible level. Some patients may require respiratory rehabilitation after a prolonged lung infection such as pneumonia.
  • IV Therapy – Some infections or medical conditions require medication to be administered intravenously. Nurses will oversee proper dosage, and monitor patient health to make sure that everything is progressing as it should.
  • Palliative Rehab and Hospice Care - Those suffering from a serious or prolonged illness may require palliative care. This type of care is designed to minimize symptoms, pain level, and stress associated with their condition. While many people associate only medication management with palliative care, an appropriate amount of physical therapy may also be included to help your loved one maintain the best quality of life possible.

    Hospice and end-of-life care are also available at short-term rehab facilities. These services provide care, comfort, peace, and dignity to the patient and their loved ones.

Sometimes, caretakers are aware that their loved ones may soon need to enter a short-term rehabilitation facility, but other times, the need may arise suddenly after an unexpected accident or illness. Regardless of whether you have months to research your decision, or barely a day’s notice, the best thing you can equip yourself with this information.

Choosing the right care facility for your loved one is a very personal decision. Many caretakers are making this decision for the first time, so it is completely understandable that they may feel some apprehension and confusion.

To help put your mind at ease, and provide you with more information please download our free brochure for our award-winning Bishop Wicke Health and Rehabilitation Center.

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About Chelsea Sayegh

I started working as a Marketing Coordinator for United Methodist Homes in October of 2016. I work on public relations, website management and community planning for their award winning independent and assisted living communities. As a graduate of Ursinus College with a degree in Media and Communications and a passion for serving nonprofits, United Methodist Homes has become my home away from home. I spend my days working in a community filled with smiling faces, helpful hands and wonderful residents. I have a passion for assisting seniors and take great pride in being able to promote a company with such a positive mission and values. As an individual committed to learning and growing, I have jumped right into this exciting career!

Our Blog is a 2016 Platinum Generations Award Winner! The Generations Award is an annual international competition for excellence in senior marketing recognizing professionals who have communicated to the 50+ Mature Markets.