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The Road to Recovery: Finding the Right Rehabilitation Program

 October 28, 2015

By  Kimberly German

Rehabilitation: Choosing the Right Program

Selecting a rehabilitation program is a process that requires careful consideration in order to ensure the best possible care for you or your loved one. A full recovery is dependent upon many factors but will always involve a close relationship between the patient, family, and medical provider. Being educated on what to expect, what to look for, and what to ask is essential to choosing the right facility for you. The following should serve as a guide to better educate you on this process, a more comprehensive list is provided at the bottom.

Finding an accredited facility:

First and foremost, you need to make sure that the facility you are selecting has experience with your particular condition or diagnosis. A facility with accredited expertise should be sought over a general rehabilitation program. Minimum standards of care must be met by facilities that are certified with the Rehabilitation Accreditation Commission (CARF). As an example, a facility can be certified as a brain injury or spinal cord injury treatment program thus ensuring there are personnel with the required expertise.

Who to Expect:

The following professions are essential resources that can be found at a rehabilitation facility. When selecting a facility, make sure the care you need can be provided.

  • Physiatrist: A Physiatrist is a Doctor who specializes in medicine and rehabilitation, physiatrists coordinate long-term rehabilitation.
  • Rehabilitation Nurse: A Rehabilitation Nurse will help manage complex medical issues and assist individuals to manage and understand the medications and treatment associated with their condition. This type of nurse may be certified with special credentials if they have received specialized training. The credential of CRRN or Certified Registered Rehabilitation Nurse is used for those with extra training.
  • Occupational Therapist: An OT will help to develop, recover, and maintain the daily living of people with physical, mental, or cognitive disorders. They help people to develop compensatory skills so they can function as independently as possible.
  • Speech Therapist: A specialist who evaluates and treats patients with speech, language, cognitive-communication and swallowing disorders in individuals of all ages, from infants to the elderly. Treatment of speech defects and disorders is implicated through use of exercises and audio-visual aids that develop new speech habits.
  • Physical Therapist: A PT will help injured or ill individuals improve their movement and manage their pain. They help with walking and physical training programs to regain lost strength, motion, and function. They advise and help to procure items such as walkers, canes, and wheelchairs.
  • Recreational Therapist: A Recreational Therapist is someone who works to promote health, wellness, and help individuals to return to prior recreational activities.
  • Vocational Therapist: A Vocational Specialist works with individuals to return to their prior employment or locate alternative work options if they are unable to return to the workplace. The develop options within an individual’s physical and mental abilities.

Ask Questions and Listen:

One will benefit greatly by listening to the experiences of individuals who have already participated in your desired program.

  • Make sure to understand the rights and responsibilities of people in the program.
  • Try to get a proposed treatment plan before you choose your facility. This way you will know what to expect.
  • Ask questions to learn more about the program, its staff, and methodology.
  • Make sure your facility has experience with your diagnosis.

Find out the extent of your financial obligations, and investigate any public or private funds for which you may be eligible. 

Be Mindful:

  •  Does the facility have experience with the particular diagnosis or condition?
  • Will there be outpatient therapy/ home care available?
  • How will family members be involved in assisting with therapy, meetings and care?
  • What involvement does the patient have in setting the schedule and selecting program components?
  • Check out other programs before making your selection.
  • How often is treatment provided, is 24-hour care provided?
  • Are other on-site specialists available?


  • How clean are the facilities?
  • Do patients appear to be well cared-for?
  • Is the staff attentive, knowledgeable, and genuine?
  • Do patients appear to be comfortable with the way they are being treated?


Go with your Gut:

Make sure you have a good feeling about the place. If you have good vibes, and like the treatment staff, go with your gut.
***Note: The info you give the provider helps to supply the background they need to determine if the placement is a good fit. Knowledge of the way a patient was prior to needing rehab is fundamental to getting a good outcome.


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