Therapy begins immediately when patients are transferred from acute care to the inpatient rehabilitation unit. Each day, for up to twelve weeks, patients receive 3-4 hours of blended occupational, physical and speech therapies. This may seem like a lot of work when you're still technically hospitalized. But as Mary Love explains, more intense therapy helps people go home faster. "This is an intense program," Mary said. "If people are willing to put in the work, we will get them home with optimal performance. That's always our goal."
"On a patient's first day with us, we evaluate their list of deficits against their prior level of function. Goals will be very different for each person. For example, young parents will have different needs than elderly patients. In cases where the patient is speech-impaired, we may need a care partner involved to translate the patient's wants and needs. A family member may need to make decisions for the patient, when they simply cannot understand what we are asking them. But regardless of limitations, we always like to get family involved as much as possible."
"After the evaluation, we'll establish both short-term and long-term goals. What can we achieve in the next week? What does the patient want to be able to do before they go home? It could be helping someone stand, building strength, maintaining balance, shifting weight to their affected side, or getting up from a bed or wheelchair. We may be working on someone's memory, reminding them where they were â€“ and where they are now."
"Each patient's needs are different, and so is their motivation. Every patient wants to return to their own "normal," but we focus on what's realistic. It may take quite awhile."
A community really does form around patients during their inpatient rehabilitation stay. "Steve Hofmann was with us for eight weeks, through the holidays and into January," remembered Mary. "Last week, we had a team breakfast and people were asking about how Steve was doing. He went home one day early, because of heavy snow predicted for his last day. And people still remember that!"
"It's so rewarding for me, as a physical therapist, to see people achieving their goals and resuming their quality of life," shared Mary. "It's the patient who can smile again. Its people like Steve Hofmann, who came to me in a wheelchair but went home walking. It's the patient who can finally go fishing again after months of waiting."
"In fact, one of my patients recently sent me a photo from the Fishing Without Boundaries event. They looked so happy and proud â€“ and that was a wonderful feeling!"