What is Rehabilitation?

Rehabilitation aims to restore a person’s ability to live as they did before an accident, injury, illness or surgery and to assist them to cope with health issues that may affect their independence. Rehabilitation addresses a person’s physical, emotional, social, and environmental needs and assists in returning a person to activities of daily living. A person may need to regain their strength, relearn skills or find new ways of doing the things they did before.

The need for rehabilitation crosses all age groups, although the type, intensity and goals of rehabilitation will differ depending on age and condition.

Rehabilitation is patient centred and is therefore specific to the individual needs of each person. For example, an older person who has had a stroke may simply want to be able to dress or bathe without help, whereas a younger person who has had a heart attack may attend a cardiac rehabilitation program to try to return to work and normal sporting or exercise activities. Whilst someone with lung disease may undertake a pulmonary rehabilitation program to improve his or her quality of life and be able to breathe easier.

To attend either an inpatient or an outpatient rehabilitation program, a doctor or specialist will write a referral to a Rehabilitation Physician (a doctor who specialises in rehabilitation medicine), who will then determine the best program to ensure the individual’s goals and needs are achieved.

Inpatient programs are generally for those people who have a requirement for more intensive therapy and are best suited to stay at the hospital where they have access to a multidisciplinary team who will design a program to help them reach their goals – with a stay duration dependant on the person’s condition and needs.

As an inpatient, you may been seen by any of the following clinicians

  • Rehabilitation Physician (who oversees the team)
  • Physiotherapist – they will work with you to improve your balance, walking, movement and strength. If appropriate, they may also recommend hydrotherapy.
  • Occupational Therapist – they will focus on functional goals and work with you to improve management of daily activities including personal, household or community tasks. Some occupational therapists are also qualified driving assessors.
  • Nurses – if you are undertaking an inpatient program, the nursing team provide 24 hour nursing care in the hospital setting. They will provide education and support in relation to medication, wound care, pain management and specialist advice regarding diabetes and incontinence management.
  • Exercise Physiologist – provide exercise based rehabilitation for a range of conditions both acute and chronic, including musculoskeletal, neurological and chronic disease management such as pain management, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, cardiovascular diseases as well as many other conditions.
  • Speech Therapist – help manage language problems, articulation issues, cognitive communication, social communication and swallowing problems. They can also prescribe alternative communication devices.
  • Dietitian – can help ensure a person is meeting their nutritional requirements and provide healthy eating advice for home.
  • Social Worker – provide advice regarding services and supports to patients and their families. Social Workers also work provide counselling support for patients and their families.

Many inpatients, once discharged, will often commence an outpatient program to continue their rehabilitation. However, outpatient programs are also available to people who have not had a hospital stay.  A referral from a specialist or doctor is required prior to commencing an outpatient programs.

Rehabilitation programs cover many areas, including:

  • Cardiac
  • Chronic Pain Management
  • Driving assessments
  • Diabetes Management
  • Falls and Balance
  • General Rehabilitation (Reconditioning) after an accident, illness, injury or surgery
  • Neurological
  • Oncology
  • Orthopaedic
  • Movement Disorder programs – ie. Parkinson’s and MS
  • Pre-op rehabilitation (preparing for surgery)
  • Pulmonary
  • Reconditioning
  • Stroke
  • Women’s and Men’s Health (including incontinence)

Access to rehabilitation can either be in a public or private rehabilitation hospital. If you do have private health cover, you can and may choose where you have your rehabilitation. When deciding on a rehabilitation facility it is important that you research each facility to ensure it provides what best suits your needs. Most people will choose their facility not only according to location but the specialist programs being offered.

Disclaimer: This Article was written and provided by St John of God – Frankston Rehabilitation Hospital for more information and support on your rehabilitation please visit www.sjog.org.au/frankston or call 03 9788 3333