Some patients live in rehab facilities for years, but they are the exception not the rule. Many attend after an operation to speed up their recovery before going home. Elderly and frail patients in need of round-the-clock care tend to stay longer in these facilities. Others drop into a center for a few hours to get physical therapy and meet up with friends.
Doctors recommend rehab after surgery as experience shows that it greatly improves recovery times. Occupational and physical rehab therapies can begin in some cases very soon after an operation. The aim is to build up mobility, muscle and bone strength, self-confidence and independence.
Be sure to do thorough research. Factors to consider include location – how convenient will it be for friends and relatives to visit? Much will depend on if you are seeking inpatient or outpatient rehab. Visit the establishments you shortlist to get a feel for what they are like. Talk to staff, patients and administrators.
Facilities may provide long-term inpatient services, short-term inpatient services, and some of them deal only with outpatients. Some are like drop-in centers where people can come for a few hours a day to get therapy. Other rehab facilities offer specialist services or have particular selling points, as well as adult day care (including a physical therapy component).
Services and therapies at these facilities can be different from nursing and rehabilitation therapies to more unusual therapies such as pet therapy, where patients get to stroke and play with cats or dogs. It is important to know what exactly you are looking for. Location, meals, quality of nursing care and rehabilitation therapy are all very important in choosing one.