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Sharp Health News

What to know about post-hospital rehabilitation

Sept. 21, 2021

Older man wearing mask and glasses holding a caregiver's hand

As we age, our medical needs can increase, and it becomes more important to learn about the many types of health care services available. When a hospital stay is necessary — for an acute illness, a surgical procedure or serious injury — a patient may be ready to be released but still require some degree of ongoing medical care. Two common destinations after a hospital stay are an acute rehabilitation center or a long-term acute care (LTAC) hospital.

What is an acute rehabilitation center?
Acute rehabilitation centers are specifically licensed to care for patients recovering from spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, stroke and other neurological disorders. They are considered hospitals, and patients are supervised by a doctor who specializes in rehabilitation, with care administered by specially trained rehab nurses.

The purpose of acute rehabilitation is to prepare patients to return home. Patients participate in an intensive physical therapy program for at least three hours a day, five or more days a week, provided by specialists who are trained to meet their rehabilitation needs. The length of stay for these patients ranges from five to 40 days or longer, depending on the severity of the injury or illness.

What is a long-term acute care (LTAC) hospital?
Long-term acute care hospitals are specialized hospitals that care for patients with chronic conditions or who are critically ill. Often, these patients need ventilators, complex wound care, or care for multiple organ failure. Patients are admitted to LTACs following treatment in a traditional acute care hospital. Participation in physical therapy varies due to the patient’s medical condition and is less demanding than therapy provided at an acute rehabilitation center.

The purpose of LTACs is to provide care for patients who require a length of stay of 25 days or more, or until the patient can transfer to a lower level of care such as their home, a skilled nursing facility or another care facility.

Differences between acute rehabilitation centers and LTACs

Acute Rehabilitation Centers

  • Stroke
  • Brain injury
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Major multiple trauma
  • Neurological disorders
  • Burns
  • Amputation

LTACs

  • Ventilator weaning
  • Low-tolerance rehabilitation (1 to 1.5 hours of therapy per day)
  • Special monitoring
  • Dialysis
  • Medically complex patient management (multisystem failure)
  • Pulmonary (lung) diseases
  • Cardiac (heart) diseases
  • Severe wounds
  • Gastrointestinal diseases, including PEG tube placement
  • Infections requiring long-term antibiotic therapy

Questions to ask when choosing an acute rehabilitation center

  • Is the facility licensed and accredited?
  • Does the facility offer programs specific to my needs?
  • How are treatment plans developed?
  • Are the therapists specially trained in acute rehabilitation care?
  • Will my insurance cover treatment?
  • What are their safety protocols?
  • When it is time for discharge, is there a case manager assigned to help prepare for the transition back home?
  • Does the facility offer outpatient therapy services?

Sharp Rehabilitation Services has two acute rehabilitation centers to serve San Diego County:

Allison deRose Rehabilitation Center at Sharp Memorial Hospital
Sharp Allison deRose Rehabilitation Center has helped San Diegans recover from illness and injury for more than 50 years. As the most accredited rehabilitation program of its kind in San Diego, it exceeds both regional and national averages in the successful rehabilitation of acute patients. For more information, call 858-939-3097.

Sharp Grossmont Rehabilitation Center
Sharp Grossmont Rehabilitation Center has helped San Diegans in East County regain their physical strength and independence for more than 40 years. The nationally recognized rehabilitation program provides a full range of services to help people of all physical conditions return to their highest level of independence. For more information, call 619-740-6204.

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