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

IRFs are free-standing rehabilitation hospitals and rehabilitation units in acute care hospitals. Patients who are admitted must be able to tolerate three hours of intense rehabilitation services per day. Common diagnoses for patients who require intensive inpatient acute rehabilitation therapy include: Stroke, brain injury, spinal cord dysfunction, heart surgery, amputation, neuromuscular conditions, arthritic conditions, joint replacement, and other conditions. Their primary focus is to provide rehabilitative services to assist patients in becoming as independent as possible in their activities of daily living so that they may return home and re-enter the community. Below are twenty tips to consider when your parent/loved one is sent for inpatient physical therapy rehabilitation.


1. Provide a list of all current medications to the rehabilitation center so that no dosages are missed.

2. Do not bring in or give the patient any unauthorized medications/supplements from home without the knowledge of the treatment team.


3. Inform the patient’s primary care physician (PCP) that the person has been admitted to the rehab center to allow for coordination of care.

4. Provide the contact information including the name and phones numbers of the current providers including the PCP, Cardiologist, Podiatrist etc.

5. Make sure to designate one person as the point of contact for coordination of care and treatment planning.

6. List at least two additional persons as emergency contacts with both home/work and mobile telephone numbers.

7. Visit regularly and consider alternating family members to prevent possible caregiver burnout.


8. Speak to the Attending/Treating Physician regarding the outlined plan of care and do not hesitate to ask questions regarding course of care.

9. Bring a copy of any prepared advanced directives for placement in the patient’s medical chart. If no advance directives were completed, consider completing one at the rehab center.

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

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


12. Leave valuables at home. Consider having the patient wear only a wedding band and inexpensive watch.

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

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

15. Decide if clothes will be washed at home or by the facility. If clothes will be washed at home bring a hamper bag for storage.

16. Buy bright plastic holders/containers for dentures, eyeglasses, hearings aids etc.

17. For patients with physical mobility limitations consider a long sleeping gown for bedtime to minimize possible fall risks.

18. Avoid flip flops or slippers as they may increase fall risks due to any unsteady gait or muscle weakness.

19. Provide the patient with sneakers with velcro straps that allow for adjustable fit while minimizing the risks of tripping due to untied shoelaces.

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

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