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20 Tips to Consider When A Loved One Is Referred to a Physical Therapy Rehabilitation Center

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IRFs are stand-alone rehabilitation clinics and rehabilitation units in acute care hospitals. Patients who are admitted must be able to endure three hours of intensive rehabilitation services per day. Common diagnoses for patients requiring intensive inpatient acute rehabilitation therapy include: stroke, brain injury, spinal cord dysfunction, cardiac surgery, amputation, neuromuscular disease, arthritic disease, joint replacement, and other conditions. Her primary focus is providing rehabilitation services to support patients to become as independent as possible in their activities of daily living so that they can return home and rejoin the community. Below are twenty tips to consider when your parent/loved one is sent for inpatient physical therapy rehabilitation.


1. Provide the rehabilitation center with a list of all current medications so no doses are missed.

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2. Do not bring or give the patient any illicit medication/supplements from home without the knowledge of the healthcare team.


3. Notify the patient’s GP that the person has been admitted to the rehabilitation center to allow for the coordination of care.

4. Provide contact information including name and phone numbers of current providers including GP, cardiologist, podiatrist, etc.

5. Ensure that you designate a contact person to coordinate care and treatment planning.

6. List at least two other people as emergency contacts with home/work and cell phone numbers.

7. Visit regularly and consider changing family members to prevent potential caregiver burnout.


8. Discuss the outlined plan of care with the treating/treating physician and do not hesitate to ask questions about the course of care.

9. Bring a copy of any advance directives prepared for inclusion in the patient’s medical record. If a living will has not been filled out, consider filling one out at the rehab center.

10. Discuss any physical, mental, or emotional changes you notice with the medical staff right away.

11. Meet with Dietitian to discuss and review any dietary restrictions or preferences.


12. Leave valuables at home. Consider having the patient wear just a wedding ring and an inexpensive watch.

13. Make sure you inventory dentures and hearing aids. Request and keep a copy of the completed and signed inventory sheet.

14. Label all personal clothing and blankets with a typed label or permanent marker.

15. Decide whether to wash the clothes at home or at the facility. If the clothes are washed at home, bring a laundry basket for storage.

16. Buy light-colored plastic holders/cases for dentures, glasses, hearing aids, etc.

17. For patients with limited physical mobility, consider a long sleep robe for bedtime to minimize possible risks of falls.

18. Avoid flip flops or slippers as they can increase the risk of falling due to unsteady gait or muscle weakness.

19. Provide the patient with sneakers that have Velcro straps that allow for an adjustable fit while minimizing the risk of tripping over untied laces.

20. Bring clothes without buttons on zippers for the patient. This will help minimize frustrations that may arise due to mobility/dexterity limitations.

Thanks to Felecia Sheffield PhD

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