When a person undergoes any sort of physical trauma, it is common for their primary physicians to recommend a period of rehabilitation. It is at these facilities that a patient’s recovery is ultimately assisted. In fact, 41% of patients who want medication-free pain relief ultimately found that physical therapy was effective in their treatment and recovery. But the road to rehab is not the same for everyone. In fact, the journey that often leads a patient to physical therapy is never the same.
For instance, a person who has undergone a minor or major surgery may require physical therapy afterwards. A critical care nurse, one of the top careers in nursing, may deem that a patient needs to go to a rehabilitation center to recover. From here, they will work closely with therapists who use patient data to develop a special treatment plan and schedule what best suits the patient. The approach of these medical personnel will also depend on the approach of the rehab institution they’re aligned with. For other cases, you might want to go directly to a rehabilitation clinic for chronic pain, mobility issues, or for preventive reasons.
With all these nuanced factors, what should you ask to determine if those medical professionals and the rehab center are the right fit for you?
The good news is that many insurance policies cover physical therapy. The only factor that may affect your rehabilitation insurance is if your appointments are deemed an “essential benefit” or not. Insurers can then connect you with in-network rehab centers for partial or total coverage. Otherwise, you can speak with a rehab center’s case managers who can help you acquire the necessary requirements, like a doctor’s therapy recommendation. These case managers can also help facilitate after-care that can still be covered by your insurance.
Because rehabilitation is highly personal, it’s important to know how flexible a rehab facility is. For example, not all stroke victims will need the same level of speech therapy. It’s important that the treatment plan involves a variety of medical professionals who can adapt their approach to your goals. These include physiotherapists, language specialists, and rehabilitation nurses, to name a few.
Don’t hesitate to ask for them for a treatment plan outline so you can see if it has taken your unique needs into consideration. If there are certain treatments you want to try, talk about exploring these options, too.
Similar to how, not all injuries are the same; the same goes for physical therapists. Depending on your injury and the severity of the trauma you’ve undergone, there will be a specialized therapist who can best treat you. Currently, the American Physical Therapy Association recognizes 18 specialties. The five most popular physical therapist specialists are the following:
Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation – which treats a vast demographic of patients with cardiopulmonary disorders and those who have just had cardiothoracic surgery. These therapists can help build endurance and mobility.
Geriatrics – therapists under this specialty care for the elderly and can also cover progressive diseases. These issues include arthritis, osteoporosis, loss of equilibrium, joint problems, surgery, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s. These specialists develop programs that typically include home routines that improve movement, cognition, and pain management.
Orthopedic Clinical Specialist – these PTs treat injuries of the musculoskeletal system. Patients under this care are typically out-patients healing from chronic conditions, broken bones, or joint replacements. As their treatments aim to regain mobility and range of movement, treatments can include strength training, electrical stimulation, water therapy, and stretching.
Pediatrics – Treatments for pediatric therapy focus on fine motor skills, coordination, endurance, and cognitive and sensory processing. Early detection and assessment by pediatric therapists are typically recommended for children with developmental delays, cerebral palsy, scoliosis, and more.
Sports Certified Specialist – SCSs are trained to treat injuries commonly attributed to sports while paying special consideration to the physical needs of an athlete. Common injuries here are ACL tears, concussions, tennis elbow, dislocation, and muscle strains. Sports therapists often tailor their approach based on the specific sport of the patients so they can target muscles and attributes necessary.
Rehabilitation often involves a holistic approach. Whether you’re staying in the facility or you’re receiving out-patient care, a support system can make all the difference. Ask your facility how they involve families in their treatment.
Depending on your comfort level, you can request that a family member simply be present during therapy or they can even be taught basic caregiving skills. What many patients find helpful is joining family counseling sessions. Here a licensed counselor can help you and your family to cope and address any mental or emotional concerns.
A huge part of rehabilitation is the environment in which it is provided. Check the facilities to make sure that they are appealing, accessible, and clean. A facility should not be foul-smelling or cluttered. A well-kept rehab center should have designated areas for various activities (both medical and recreational) that are well-lit, sanitized, and spacious enough. In-house patient rooms must be free of pests, leaks, or faulty wiring. All areas of the facility must also be monitored by medical personnel.
To add to that, and given the COVID-19 pandemic, make sure that your facility is adhering to the federal and state safety recommendations as non-essential medical services resume. These include following social distancing, wearing of personal facial covering, and strict setting of appointments.
Being told you need physical therapy can feel scary and lonely. But according to the WHO, there are actually over 2.4 billion people around the world live with health conditions that benefit from physical rehabilitation. Rehabilitation, when done with the right facility and professionals, can be a life-changing experience physically and mentally.
Written by Avery Smith for northwestrehab.com