It has been my experience that most people who wind up in a physical rehabilitation facility after hospitalization don’t know what to expect. In many cases they are so turned off by the reality of rehab, they either get off to a bad start or leave… hoping any alternative is better than staying. With that in mind I’m writing this so you can go in with your eyes wide open and get the most from rehab.
13 Common Expectations
- Plenty of time to decide on which facility you want to go to. Reality: It’s difficult even be able to choose ahead of time, because when you’re ready for discharge there may not be an available bed at the facility you want. Have a couple options in mind.
- Staffing equal to what they experienced in the hospital. Reality: Not even close.
- Physical therapy to begin immediately. Reality: Highly unlikely, especially if you arrive late on Friday. At best, you’re first session will be mostly an evaluation by the therapist.
- A quiet room similar to the hospital. Reality: Highly unlikely. Bring earplugs.
- Pain medications dispensed on a schedule just like in the hospital. Reality: The discharging doctor will most likely change your pain medications… maybe even to “as needed” (which means you have to ask for them) Talk with the admitting nurse and ask about the schedule.
- A restful place for recovery. Reality: This isn’t like going home. There are going to be frequent disturbances by staff, unusual sounds in the hallway, and probably somebody yelling off and on.
- Food served in room. Reality: Expect to go to the dining room as part of your rehab.
- Easy access to their doctor. Reality: Your regular doctor probably won’t even come see you in the facility. You’ll likely have an assigned doctor who may not see you for days.
- Discharge home after a couple weeks of Rehab. Reality: Unless you push for it, this is highly unlikely. Rehab facilities only make money while you’re there.
- The full color brochure created by the facility is reality. Reality: Did you miss the picture of Barbie?
- Immediate response by staff to needs. Reality: Expect to wait a minimum of 10 minutes and it can frequently be more
- Restful sleep at night. Reality: Just in case you missed it before, bring earplugs.
- Painless rehab. Reality: You’re joking right? In order to keep you pain free, you’d probably need to be on heavy doses of narcotics. All you’d want to do is sleep. Rehab takes effort.
7 Ways to Get the Most
From Physical Rehab
- Trust your therapist to be your coach
- Do the exercises your therapist recommends
- Take advantage of every opportunity to work with your therapist
- Be prepared for therapy by having your nurse pre-medicate for pain 30 minutes before the session
- After the first couple of days, try to avoid narcotic medications during the day except right before therapy
- Make sure you’re given pain medication about an hour before you want to go to sleep
- Get a good night’s sleep without sleep medication, because these drugs tend to leave you lethargic during the day. If possible, stay out of bed until time to sleep. Bring some chamomile tea with you and have a cup or two before bedtime. Wear ear plugs to block unusual noises and sounds. Turn the TV off at bedtime.