Inpatient Rehab Helps Patients Rebuild Skills

January 03, 2013

The challenges faced by stroke survivors and people suffering from traumatic injuries, amputations or chronic illnesses like Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis, are not just physical. They are also psychological and emotional. Overcoming these challenges requires more than physical and occupational therapy. It takes encouragement, a good support system and, above all else … hope.

Denise Dailing, a physical therapist and administrator for Rehabilitation and Orthopaedics at Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital, says no one understands this better than the staff at the hospital’s Inpatient Rehabilitation unit.

“When patients come to us, we ask them what their goals are and what they need to do in order to go home. We find out what issues they are facing and what worries them, and we build our treatment program around that. We create a very encouraging environment,” explains Dailing. “Our patients can also see other people getting better. They see hope all around them.

What sets Henry Ford apart?

Established in 1964, Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital’s 38-bed Inpatient Rehabilitation unit is a certified stroke center. It was also the first rehabilitation facility in the Midwest to be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Rehabilitation Facilities. This designation, which is based on an in-depth review of its services and quality of care, has been renewed every three years since 1967.

Another important way the program sets itself apart from others is that it surpasses the national average in helping 75 percent of its patients return home.

“When people are facing physical or cognitive challenges, they may need the help of an inpatient rehabilitation facility,” says Dailing. “Our goal is to help each individual function as independently as possible. We strive to give our patients the tools necessary to be in charge of their recovery and ultimately go back to leading a full life.

Who benefits from inpatient rehabilitation?

Patients admitted to the unit are ages 14 and older. These patients may have had a stroke or suffered brain, spinal cord or other traumatic injury. Others admitted to the program have neurological or medically complex disabilities.

“Most of the people we see lived at home alone or with their families, but because of an injury or illness, they aren’t able to return home,” notes Dailing.

Many of the patients admitted to the Inpatient Rehabilitation unit were hospitalized following a visit to the emergency room.

“If the doctor or case manager thinks the patient would benefit from inpatient rehabilitation, a referral will be sent to our unit,” Dailing adds. “These patients are assessed to determine whether they are candidates for rehabilitation.”

Regaining function and independence

Once they are admitted, the primary focus of patients’ rehabilitation is improving their function so they can care for themselves.

“We encourage patients to do as much for themselves as they can,” says Dailing. “We work with them to help them get dressed and perform other daily activities.”

Patients receive at least three hours of therapy daily, which usually includes a combination of physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. They may also receive recreational therapy to help them take part in leisure activities.

“Recreational therapy is an important part of getting patients to feel as though they are a part of their community. It also helps keep them motivated,” Dailing points out. “This type of therapy also helps fight depression among patients facing difficult rehabilitation.”

Experience and a team approach make the difference

Another key to the rehabilitation unit’s success is the experience and training of its staff, according to Dailing.

“Most of our team of therapists and nurses have been on staff for a long time,” she says. “It is an experienced and skilled staff, which is benefiting our patients.”

Since the rehabilitation unit is attached to the Hospital, primary care physicians and other specialists can follow their patients and help oversee their medical care.

Other members of the rehab team include physiatrists, or doctors specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation. The physiatrist is the team leader, and coordinates the care of each patient. Rehab nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists also treat patients on a daily basis. Rehab social workers are a key part of the team, helping patients and families prepare for and plan for their discharge.

In addition, neuropsychologists assess behavioral and cognitive issues related to brain injury, stroke and other illnesses.

Families are key

“We also do family training,” notes Dailing. “Patients’ families are a key part of our team.”

Visiting hours are not restricted at the Inpatient Rehabilitation unit. In fact, family members are encouraged to attend therapy sessions to learn how to help patients once they return home.

For patients without loved ones waiting for them at home, there is help. Rehab social workers at the rehabilitation unit can assist them in finding the resources they need.

“Not having the help of a family member or loved one should not be a barrier to someone being able to go home,” says Dailing.