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What’s the Difference between Outpatient Clinic Therapy and Acute Care Rehabilitation?

Higher Education Articles August 16, 2013

Although healthcare providers may fully understand the distinctions between outpatient acute care rehabilitation versus inpatient care, the concepts may not be so readily discerned by individual patients. Grasping the reasons for entering a therapy hospital does not evidence an understanding of the associated processes, functions and purposes.

In fact, for most patients, the distinctions are immaterial on a practical level of need-to-know. Yet knowledge in and of itself holds a certain therapeutic value to any patient – transitional, long term or those in day treatment plans.

When an individual acquires an adequate comprehension of the what, why and how of his or her world, an improved sense of self-worth and self-sufficiency follows suit. Likewise, a healthy mental and emotional outlook quickens the healing process. You may not grasp the full technicalities behind the Art and Science of Rehabilitation, but you can take hold of the basic concepts.

Rehabilitation defines specialized healthcare with a focus on one or more of the following areas:

•Greater personal independence
•Increased cognition, including communication-focused speech and language therapy
•Improved physical strength
•Maximized mobility
•Maintaining restored physical strength
•Occupational therapy designed to enhance the patient’s everyday living skills

In general, therapy hospitals provide rehabilitation facilities designed to meet the needs of patients injured through accident, illness or in need of post-surgery recovery. Typical rehabilitation plans blend the specialties of various experts and may address specific issues related to:

•Assorted Neurological Disorders – Such as those related to head injury and stroke
•Orthopedic Surgery – Such as those related to total joint replacement surgery
•Spinal Cord Injuries – Along with the many associated nerve reactions
•Much more.

Outpatient Clinic Therapy Defined

According to a report from the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses, outpatient clinics provide therapy to patients via scheduled clinic visitations. Regardless of the patient’s primary living arrangements, the patient must visit the clinic to receive therapy. The experts on hand and therapy hospital rehabilitation team study the patient and then develop a custom plan to meet that patient’s precise therapy needs. Each therapy plan is designed to maximize performance in the following areas:

•Patient Safety
•Patient Mobility
•Patient Self-care
•And Patient Personal Independence.

Typical outpatient therapy involves no scheduled nursing services, patient furnished transportation and payment via Medicare and/or commercial insurance. The visits are usually scheduled to occur two to three times a week on varying days.

Acute Care Rehabilitation

Intensive Rehabilitation: Takes on one of three primary formats. In the most acute cases, the patient must be admitted to the therapy hospital for an extended stay. The therapy typically includes three plus hours per day on a five to seven day schedule. RNs are on duty 24/7.

Transitional Acute Rehabilitation: Involves in-house treatment. However, the patient’s medical condition prohibits long hours of sequential treatment. The therapy is typically limited to less than three hour sessions. In the long term goal, the patient will hopefully advance to intensive rehabilitation.

Sub-acute Care: For the purpose of this paper, the concept of Sub-acute Care will remain within the definition of Transitional Acute Care. For greater details on Sub-acute Care, review the literature at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Outpatient Acute Care Rehabilitation

Outpatient rehabilitation can include acute care services – typically associated with or immediately following a patient’s hospitalization. In its greater sense of purpose, outpatient acute care rehabilitation is adapted to the following process:

•Patient enters program due to illness or accident that begins as a hospital situation
•Once medically stable, the patient enters a therapy hospital
•Patient is individualized and monitored
•Therapy begins, including occupational and physical aspects.

Acute rehabilitation proceeds for two to three weeks. Sub-acute rehabilitation follows. Eventually, the patient shifts into the status of outpatient rehabilitation or even home care.

Sweet and Simple Closing

When all the sub-statements and concerns are stripped aside, two primary points distinguish Outpatient Clinic Therapy from Acute Care Therapy:

•Acute care therapy, even when listed as outpatient acute care rehabilitation demands that the patient remain in the therapy hospital until such time as he or she is released by the attending therapy team

•Outpatient clinic therapy lacks the major of attention associated with acute therapy, does not require the attention of an attendant RN and permits the patient to reside outside of the therapy hospital.

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