Rehab Settings 101: Knowing the Difference


Individuals that are recovering from an injury or stroke, or that are coping with a physical impairment are likely to attend rehabilitative therapy to help them get back to life as usual. This kind of therapy can take place in a number of different rehab settings, dependent on the specific wants and needs of the recuperating patient. 


Partly due to an aging population, jobs in rehab therapy are expected to increase around 25% over the next few years. If you are looking to enter the world of physical or occupational therapy, it is important to know the differences between the various settings so that you can make an informed decision about where you want to work.


Read on for our rundown of the eight most common rehab settings.


Acute Care Rehab Setting


Acute rehabilitation is the setting for severe trauma patients who need the most intensive care. This kind of rehab setting deals with patients that have suffered extreme physical trauma, strokes, amputation or debilitating diseases. Therapists will see their patients for at least three hours a day, up to five days a week, with daily visits from an attending physician. It is the goal of acute care to make significant improvements within a reasonable time frame.


Subacute Care Rehab Setting


Subacute rehab therapy settings are less intense than acute; they are comprised of shorter sessions but take place over a longer period of time, and patients will usually only see an attending physician about once a month. This kind of rehab can be thought of as a middle-ground between acute rehab and home health care, and is ideal for patients who have either completed acute rehab or don’t have the energy for the intensity of acute rehab. 


Long-term Acute Care Rehab Setting


This is a facility for patients who require long-term hospitalization. The services offered are specially designed for people with unique medical needs, which are usually either an intensification of existing conditions or the management of symptoms that follow a traumatic event. It is like acute rehab in its intensity but requires the patient to stay in the healthcare facility over a much longer period. 


Home Health Care Rehab Setting


Home health care rehabilitation involves therapists traveling to the patient’s homes. In addition to offering therapy services, they can also lend a hand in implementing small changes around the home that will help make the patient’s recovery more comfortable, such as advising diet changes or helping with light housework. It is an attractive option for many senior patients because it is usually more affordable than inpatient care and allows them to recover from the comfort of their own homes. 




Inpatient Care Rehab Setting


Inpatient rehab is care that patients receive during or after a stay at the hospital. Patients who undergo this type of therapy will have to stay at an inpatient facility for an extended period of time. While a long stay can seem daunting, they do benefit from receiving more one-on-one sessions with healthcare professionals and around-the-clock access to medical assistance if needed. It is typically for patients who have sustained severe injuries, such as traumas that require them to re-learn how to walk.


Outpatient Care Rehab Setting


Outpatient rehab occurs when patients are not admitted to the hospital. One of the most appealing aspects of outpatient care is that patients can return to the comfort of their own homes while continuing their rehabilitation, both at a facility and at home. Typically, the injuries dealt with in this type of setting are less severe than in inpatient facilities, but still require certain therapies so that patients can return to their full occupational and physical potential, such as broken limbs. 


School-Based Rehab Setting


This type of rehab allows students with disabilities or who have suffered trauma to continue their education with as little disruption as possible, by implementing physical and occupational therapy practices in and around the classroom. Therapists in this sector of rehab play a vital role in preparing children with impairment for college and career settings, or where they otherwise wouldn’t  have assistance.


Skilled Nursing Facility Rehab Setting


A skilled nursing facility is a specific branch of a hospital which provides around-the-clock medical assistance from nurses, as well as a variety of different therapists. This kind of facility functions in similar ways to a nursing home. The main difference, however, is that nursing homes are generally permanent situations, while skilled nursing facilities will discharge patients once they have shown moderate signs of improvement.


While there are undoubtedly aspects of these various facilities which appeal to different individuals, it’s a good idea to keep your options open to all possible settings. Even though jobs in this healthcare sector are on the rise, job opportunities for each setting can fluctuate at any time; if you limit your search to just one setting, you many have difficulty finding a position.


There is a lot that can be learned from each rehab setting, the different types of injuries that are treated, and different kinds of relationships that can be formed with patients! It’s wise to explore different possibilities and round out your skills.


If you are looking for a job in the field of physical or occupational therapy, check out what Radius has to offer. Perhaps you would like to work in home health in Kansas, or maybe a mix of inpatient and outpatient in Texas? No matter what you are looking for, Radius is here to help!

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