Therapy Plays a Vital Role in Post-Acute Care
The word “acute” in the medical sense means that a disease or illness is sudden or has a short duration. Post-acute care may be indicated for diseases, surgeries, and injuries that dramatically affect a person’s way of life. Therapy is one important modality to consider for post-acute care patients. It can often be vital for patients to cope with symptoms, learn a new way of living and return to full health.
Therapy Treats the Whole Person
Therapy addresses the patient as a whole person. Therapists care deeply about the concept of wellness, not just health. A common phrase among occupational therapists (OTs) and physical therapists (PTs) is: “Deal with reality on reality’s terms.” This means that there is an ideal place of full health, but not everyone can get there. This is where wellness plays an important role. Medical providers prescribe pills and ointments to treat a patient’s illness or condition. Therapists deal with all manifestations of the patient’s condition, as varied as they can be.
- Physical Wellness – Of course, many of the problems patients face is a lack of complete mobility, or dealing with the loss of an action or an entire body part. Therapists deal with this by developing new techniques for the patients to use to compensate for their loss of mobility. Therapists also work with post-acute care patients by relearning physical skills to deal with daily life.
- Emotional Wellness – Dealing with any disease is tough, even more so when it’s debilitating, embarrassing or life-altering. It’s not just awkward or inconvenient dealing with incontinence after a particular tough battle with prostate cancer; it’s humiliating as well. Therapy treats the emotional scarring and behavioral issues that happen during post-acute care. Without it, a patient can’t fully cope with their new mode of living.
- Spiritual Wellness – This isn’t some new-aged concept; therapy attempts to address the deep-seated issues spiritual struggles with acceptance. A vital part of dealing with and healing from a new condition is to learn to accept it. Spiritual wellness develops a peace and harmony about a patient’s life.
The wellness chart also consists of social, intellectual, occupational and environmental hubs. Therapy addresses the entirety of a condition by treating each of these aspects. Whereas a doctor or caregiver might prescribe medication, wellness involves a much more complete picture of the patient and treats them as such.
Therapy in Post-Acute Care
Within the framework of therapy, there are different needs for different patients. These are the most common types of care that are offered at post-acute care centers or skilled nursing facilities.
Occupational Therapy – The goal of an OT is to give the patient the tools and techniques to return to normal function of everyday life. Within post-acute care, occupational therapy attempts to focus on highly-specific tasks directly affected by the condition. This could be: learning medication management after a surgery, or relearning how to dress, bathe, prepare meals, and perform light housekeeping duties. This short-term therapy is about getting patients to become independent so they can rely on themselves rather than a therapist.
Physical Therapy – Sometimes, a surgery or illness causes physical changes to a patient’s body. After a hip replacement, a physical therapist provides post-acute care during the recovery to develop specific muscles so patients regain the ability to walk. Physical therapists strengthen and target the movements that can no longer be performed normally. They also prescribe exercise so that the patient can become independent and self-reliant.
Speech Therapy – This may be indicated for patients with some sort of head or neck cancer or the rapid onset of a neurological disease. The speech, cognition, swallowing or motor movements of the mouth can be greatly affected. Speech therapy seeks to restore function to all these areas. It exists to bring back that original movement within the mouth. Words are the literal sharing of ideas and thoughts so the lack of words can greatly hamper a patient’s moods and ability to heal. With therapy, patients can restore their ability to communicate effectively, even if it is different than before.
Therapy’s Role in Recovery
Therapy provides patients with care in every aspect of their life. Rehabilitation is an important and critical part of the recovery process. For most patients, a post-acute care stay lasts from 20-30 days depending on the patient’s diagnosis and tolerance for therapy. It’s short-term care that’s designed to transition patients out of medical facilities and back into the home. There is no other solution that is as complete and whole as therapy for making this outcome possible.
For the most part, post-acute care is done in a skilled nursing facility or a long-term acute center (LTAC). Many patients, with the correct therapy, move back into their homes and lead normal lives within a few weeks to months. Therapy can continue in the home as patients work towards a complete restoration of their health and wellbeing.
HTS provides therapy services to skilled nursing facilities, extended care, hospitals, assisted living and continuing care retirement communities across the Midwest and Southern States. We are a trusted authority on post-acute care rehabilitation and keep our clients informed, compliant and positioned as leaders in their industry. Partner with HTS today!