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Medical Rehabilitation Speeds Healing Process

Medical Rehabilitation Speeds Healing Process
By Bernice Miller, RN

You have suffered a life-changing event - a car accident, a stroke, or perhaps a fractured hip. You are ready to leave the acute-care setting of the hospital but you aren't able to go home yet. How you spend this stage of your recovery can make a significant difference in the healing process and your ultimate outcome.

People who have experienced a loss of function, either temporary (from surgery or an injury that will heal) or permanent (from a stroke or progressive neurological disease) can make considerable gains in a care setting called
inpatient medical rehabilitation.

Where is inpatient medical rehabilitation available locally?

Inpatient medical rehabilitation occurs in a hospital setting and is available at Cayuga Medical Center in a special unit that accommodates up to fifteen adult patients. This unit has a multidisciplinary staff consisting of physiatrists (doctors who specialize in physical medicine), physical and occupational therapists, speech and language pathologists, dietitians, activity therapists, and registered nurses and aides who are trained in rehabilitation.

If you are a patient at Cayuga Medical Center, you or a family member can ask for a rehabilitation evaluation, for transfer to the physical medical rehabilitation unit following your acute-care hospitalization. To be admitted a patient must show potential for improvement and be able to participate in a therapy program.

Can I be transferred from an out-of-town hospital to Ithaca for medical rehabilitation?

Yes, if you are hospitalized out of town, you can request to be transferred back home for inpatient medical rehabilitation. It happens all the time and, in fact, doctors encourage patients who are recovering from life-altering events to be as close to home as possible. Close proximity makes it easier for family and friends to actively participate in the recovery process and provide emotional support. Just call the medical rehabilitation unit at (607) 274-4555 for transfer information.

Specifically what types of patients benefit from inpatient medical rehabilitation?

The most common conditions we treat on the medical rehabilitation unit include multiple injuries from accidents, stroke, surgery following hip fractures, and neurologic diseases, such as Parkinson's or muscular sclerosis (MS). We help patients who need assistance getting back into the activities of daily living, such as walking, bathing, dressing, and eating. When people have suffered brain injury from stroke or trauma, we help them regain speech and language skills and give them tools to help reorder their thinking processes.

What are the goals of inpatient medical rehabilitation?

This unit was created so patients could increase and progress their activities under the guidance of specialized therapists and physicians. These physicians monitor both the healing process and the impact of increasing mobility on each patient's underlying illness or injury. 

The overarching goal for patients in this care setting is to become as independent as possible, within the parameters of each patient's level of function. Individual patient goals are based on what that person wants or needs to accomplish in order to get back home and return to community living. Your rehabilitation plan will be tailored and specific to your needs and desires.

Just how does a patient go about reaching personal goals?

Once we establish goals, we assess your current status and put a plan into place to reach those goals, small steps at a time. We may begin by simulating your normal daily routine. Then we initiate the kind of therapy that will get you to the point where you can get up out of bed, bathe, dress, and eat. In the case of someone who has suffered a stroke, therapy may involve something as basic as relearning how to swallow or pick up a spoon.

Inpatient medical rehabilitation is all about improving quality of life. The rehabilitation specialists at Cayuga Medical Center help people put the pieces of their lives back together following a serious medical interruption. In this setting, our patients lead the way by identifying their goals and we help them achieve those goals. Our special strengths lie in our rehabilitation experience, and in our compassion for our patients and a true understanding of what they are going through.

Bernice Miller is a registered nurse with eleven years of experience in inpatient physical medical rehabilitation. She is director of Medical Rehabilitation Services at Cayuga Medical Center. 


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