How To Choose Inpatient Rehabilitation After Stroke

February 19, 2024

Nighttime view of the Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital in Center Valley.

Each patient who has a stroke has unique challenges. It’s not unusual that you and your loved ones may feel overwhelmed when it’s time to leave the acute-care hospital and begin a rehabilitation program.

Selecting the right care to meet your post-stroke goals starts with understanding the difference between an inpatient rehabilitation hospital and a skilled nursing facility.

Acute inpatient stroke rehabilitation — offered in a specialized hospital setting like Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital in Center Valley, Pennsylvania – offers a higher level of care and more resources typically than skilled nursing rehabilitation. An inpatient rehabilitation hospital has the clinical team, experience, technology and facility to help stroke patients regain strength, mobility and other physical, social and emotional functions.

A study showed that stroke care in an inpatient rehabilitation facility (sometimes referred to as IRF) was associated with substantially improved physical mobility and self-care function compared with rehabilitation in a skilled nursing facility (SNF). Additionally, the American Health Association recommends that an inpatient rehabilitation setting is preferred over skilled nursing for those stroke patients who qualify for and have access to inpatient rehabilitation.

What is inpatient stroke rehabilitation?

Inpatient rehabilitation is an important step in increasing independence and physical and cognitive function for stroke patients. A personalized rehabilitation program enhances a patient’s quality of life. It may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, physician services, neuropsychology and other expert rehabilitation care, including nursing.

An inpatient rehabilitation hospital specializes in rehabilitation for stroke and other medically complex conditions. It offers a specialized teams of doctors, therapists, nurses, neuropsychologists, respiratory therapists, care managers and other health-care professionals who work together to solve problems and achieve results for each patient.

Benefits of inpatient rehabilitation for stroke recovery

  • More care: For at least five days a week, each patient takes part in three hours of intensive therapy that is personalized for each patient’s ability, pain levels and goals. (By comparison, a skilled nursing unit may only offer one or two hours of therapy a day that is not considered intensive.)
  • Shorter length of stay: An inpatient rehabilitation hospital stay for stroke recovery is 16 days on average nationally versus 28 days for skilled nursing.
  • Specialized facility: Look for a modern inpatient rehabilitation setting that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) — like the one found at Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital.
  • Customized program: When developed, the rehabilitation session schedule takes into account the patient’s goals, medical history and current levels of independence, cognition and mobility.
  • Daily access to a doctor: A doctor is at the rehabilitation hospital every day. Each patient is seen by the doctor three days a week or more for progress reviews, medication and pain management, as well as other medical concerns.
  • Specialized therapy team: The team is a mix of highly skilled, experienced and certified professionals. Therapists are at the hospital seven days a week.
  • Advanced and emerging technology: For stroke rehabilitation, patients may work with technology for walking and balance, arm and leg strength and swallowing. With a focus on safety, body weight support systems are important tools for stroke rehabilitation.
  • Specialized nursing: An inpatient rehabilitation hospital offers 24-hour nursing by specially trained and experienced rehabilitation nurses who help you move to more independence.
  • Emotional support: Many stroke patients grieve their lost independence, so neuropsychologists can help work through the mental impact of a stroke.
  • Seamless transition home: Once a patient leaves the rehabilitation hospital, our team makes your return home as stress-free as possible, including coordinating follow-up doctor visits, outpatient rehabilitation needs and more. Learn more about Transitional Care Management.

Who can tolerate higher intensity rehabilitation?

You may be concerned that your condition following a stroke won’t allow you to participate in three hours of intensive therapy a day. At Good Shepherd Rehabilitation, we evaluate each patient to ensure successful inpatient therapy sessions. Many of our patients are surprised at how much they are capable of doing with the support and expertise of our team.

It’s important to emphasize that each patient’s rehabilitation is personalized to match abilities and goals. One patient may want to safely navigate a series of stairs at home. Another may want to return to work. Another may want to restart hobbies like gardening.

With our sole focus on rehabilitation, Good Shepherd Rehabilitation is committed to supporting patients as individuals to help regain independence and quality of life.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that where you go for stroke rehabilitation may impact the rest of your life. With inpatient rehabilitation being the fastest way to return home, let Good Shepherd Rehabilitation help you and your family decide if it’s the right choice for your post-acute stroke care.

To learn more about inpatient stroke rehabilitation at Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital or to take a tour, contact our Admissions team at 1.888.44.REHAB (73422).