Navigating the Different Types of Rehabilitation and Therapy Services Available


The different types of rehabilitation and therapy services can seem overwhelming and daunting. However, the process becomes more manageable when broken down into simple categories.

Once patients are discharged from the hospital or inpatient rehab, they often move to outpatient care. This is usually a clinic that they travel to a few times a week but may also be in-home.

Inpatient Rehab

Inpatient rehab involves living in a facility that provides a high level of care for individuals who need help recovering from severe illness, injury, or surgery. It can include many types of therapy, including physical, occupational, and speech. Some inpatient rehab programs also offer mental health services, such as counseling.

Some inpatient rehabs like Westminster Oaks are free or low-cost, and some accept insurance or have financing options for people who do not have insurance. Most insurance companies will require a patient to provide documentation that the level of rehabilitation is medically necessary before they agree to cover it.

Outpatient rehabilitation therapy occurs when patients are not admitted to a hospital or clinic and includes various treatment options, such as physical and occupational therapy, speech therapy, and cognitive therapy. Some outpatient rehabs have a step-down program that gradually reduces the frequency and intensity of sessions as you progress in recovery. Some of these programs allow patients to stay home while attending treatment sessions.

Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient rehab is the opposite of inpatient care, as it allows individuals to continue living at home while completing treatment sessions. These therapy services include physical, speech, occupational, and cognitive therapy.

These therapies help patients overcome many medical conditions, such as brain injury, spinal cord injuries, limb loss, or multiple sclerosis. In some cases, rehabilitation therapy may even prevent further complications and reduce or eliminate the need for costly hospitalizations.

Outpatient rehab programs can last a few weeks to a year, depending on the individual’s needs and goals. Generally, they are less expensive than inpatient rehabilitation. They also allow people to attend treatment while maintaining their work or school responsibilities. However, they are required to show up for scheduled therapy sessions. This can be a challenge for some patients.

Sub-Acute Rehab


Suppose a patient cannot tolerate or does not require the intense level of rehabilitation provided at an acute rehabilitation facility. In that case, they can move into a sub-acute rehab program. These are often located within a skilled nursing facility or nursing home and offer less intensive rehabilitation therapies such as physical, occupational, speech, and more.

Patients who qualify for sub-acute rehabilitation may have had a major medical trauma, like a traumatic brain injury or a serious heart attack. They also may have a debilitating illness, such as cancer or COPD, that requires extensive medical treatment and symptom management.

These facilities are typically smaller than a hospital, and the staffing differs. As an RN, you will most likely be responsible for coordinating care in a sub-acute rehab facility and working alongside a multidisciplinary team. You will be able to work with the physical, occupational, and speech therapists on an ongoing basis to help your patients progress.

Long-Term Rehab

A long-term rehabilitation program can provide the time and space needed to address underlying mental health issues that contribute to addiction. It also provides time to practice new habits in a safe and supportive environment.

These programs may occur in stand-alone rehab hospitals, specialized wings of acute care hospitals, or skilled nursing facilities. They are often covered by Medicare or other insurance.

Using different intervention techniques, rehabilitation aims to help children and adults improve or maintain their quality of life. This can involve reducing pain, improving balance and movement, or addressing other problems related to walking, speaking, seeing, hearing, or thinking.

It’s crucial to have high-quality, affordable rehabilitation services available. However, many people with chronic or severe health conditions are not getting these services. For this reason, a comprehensive approach to rehabilitation should be part of health system planning. This should include integrated care and a universal coverage model. This way, people who need it can access these vital services.