Rehabilitation channels the body’s natural healing abilities and the brain’s relearning processes so an individual may recover as quickly and efficiently as possible, and involves learning new ways to compensate for abilities that have permanently changed due to brain injury. The focus of rehabilitation is to enable individuals to perform their activities of daily living (ADLs) safely and independently so they can move on to other forms of rehabilitation or transition to their home.
There are several rehabilitation options based on a person’s ability to participate in a rehabilitation program. More often than not, the insurance company will limit the number of days a person can participate in a rehabilitative program, making it is especially important to find the right program for the person. The treatment team will typically advise, or refer, the patient to the most appropriate rehabilitation setting.
As early as possible in the recovery process, individuals who sustain brain injuries will begin acute rehabilitation. The treatment is provided in a special unit of a trauma hospital, a rehabilitation hospital, or another inpatient setting. During acute rehabilitation, a team of health professionals with experience and training in brain injury work with the patient to regain as many activities of daily living as possible. Activities of daily living include dressing, eating, using the bathroom, walking, and speaking.
When patients are well enough to participate in more intensive therapy, they may be transferred to a post-acute rehabilitation setting, such as a transitional rehabilitation facility. Transitional rehabilitation facilities are sometimes called residential rehabilitation or transitional living facilities. The goal of post-acute rehabilitation is to help the person become as independent as possible. Patients undergo at least six hours of therapy per day. This type of comprehensive rehabilitation in a post-acute facility is considered the gold standard for care and treatment following brain injury.
Patients who cannot tolerate intensive therapies may be transferred to a sub-acute rehabilitation facility. Sub-acute rehabilitation programs are designed for persons with brain injury who need less-intensive rehabilitation services over a longer period of time. Sub-acute programs may also be designed for those who have made progress in an acute rehabilitation setting (and are still progressing) but are not making rapid functional gains. Sub-acute rehabilitation may be provided in a variety of settings, such as a skilled nursing facility or nursing home.
Day Treatment (Day Rehab or Day Hospital)
Day treatment provides rehabilitation in a structured group setting during the day and allows the person with a brain injury to return home at night. Some people may transition to a day program following their discharge from an inpatient post-acute rehabilitation facility, while others may proceed directly to sub-acute rehabilitation after discharge from the hospital.
Following acute, post-acute, and/or sub-acute rehabilitation, a person with a brain injury may continue to receive outpatient therapies to maintain and enhance his or her recovery. Individuals whose injuries were not severe enough to require hospitalization or who were not initially diagnosed with a brain injury when the incident occurred may attend outpatient therapies to address problem areas as a result of their brain injury.