The patient population ranges from infants with developmental disabilities to the geriatric population and encompasses patients who have functional deficits from accidents or acute medical events and those deficits from progressive disease or chronic disorders.
Injuries and dysfunction resulting from occupational and sports injuries are appropriate for physiatric evaluation. (Physiatrist is a physician of physical medicine and rehabilitation.)
Patients’ problems are generally complex and require a multi-disciplinary approach coordinated by the physiatrist, functions of the primary care physician and specialists for medical issues such as spasticity, bowel and bladder dysfunction, musculoskeletal problems and complications associated with disability. Areas managed by rehabilitation clinicians include mobilities, self care, communication, swallowing and rehabilitation for vocation, education, recreation and psychological adjustment to disability.
Rehabilitation professionals include physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, psychologists, care managers, prosthetists, and orthotists or creational therapists, vocational specialists and teachers. Some patients with limited impairments, such as musculoskeletal issues may require only a subset of these services.
The intensity of rehabilitation services provide varieties according to the patient’s severity of illness. Hospitalized patients generally receive treatment one or two times per day, five to seven times per week, with patients in the intensive care unit receiving shorter sessions than those on the rehabilitation services or other wards.
Treatments provided in subacute settings to selected patients generally are five times per week. For other subacute patients, outpatients and home therapy, it is more common to treat less frequently. The duration of ongoing therapy varies according to each patient’s condition. Regardless of the setting, therapy is not considered justified after functional plateaus have been reached.