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Post-hospital rehab center offers patients a place to heal

Posted March 30, 2020 5:00 a.m. EDT

Life doesn't immediately go back to how it was before your hospitalization - your body needs time to heal, rebuild its strength and adjust to its "new normal." (Photo Courtesy of Hillcrest)

This article was written for our sponsor, Hillcrest.

When you're hospitalized, whether it's for an illness or a surgery, the thing at the forefront of your mind is usually, "When can I get out of here?" However, even before you're discharged, it's important to think about your post-hospital care.

Life doesn't immediately go back to how it was before your hospitalization – your body needs time to heal, rebuild its strength and adjust to its "new normal."

It may be tempting to resume business as usual and get back to your routine as quickly as possible, but that's not the wisest decision. Patients who have undergone hospitalizations for things like knee replacements, stroke, chemotherapy, or those who are being treated for an injury or illness need rehab to aid in their recovery.

Start by researching appropriate rehab facilities – ones that have experience catered toward your specific rehab needs, ones that understand the challenges and limitations of working with someone your age, and a place that is conveniently located near your home.

"Depending on the care you received or the operation you've had, whether it's for heart surgery, chemotherapy cancer treatment or a joint replacement, rehab can speed up your recovery," explained Natalie Davis, director of rehabilitation at Hillcrest. "Most patients start their rehab while they're still at the hospital and are then discharged directly into a rehab facility. Depending on the patient's condition, this could mean a stay of a few weeks or a few months.

"For patients who go directly home, an outpatient center that patients can regularly visit a few times a week is an excellent option to help them achieve a fuller recovery. Hillcrest provides both inpatient and outpatient rehab therapy."

Post-hospital rehabilitative care may include any of the following:

  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Geriatric psychiatry
  • Wound care
  • Specialized therapeutic programs

A study published in the medical journal, Current Opinion in Anaesthesiology, evaluated the merits of exercise therapy before and after major surgery and found "postoperative exercise should be initiated as soon as possible after surgery according to fast-track or enhanced recovery after surgery principles."

"After you've had a major surgery or if you've been hospitalized for a serious injury or illness, you're in a vulnerable state. You need personalized care by a team of well-trained professionals," Davis added. "At Hillcrest, we have that – and the result is excellent outcomes for our patients, and one of the lowest re-hospitalization rates in the Triangle."

In addition to inpatient rehab, Hillcrest also has an outpatient therapy center that features specialized care, including a cancer rehab therapy program for those struggling with lymphedema. Lymphedema is a blockage of the lymphatic vessels that results in swelling, usually of the arms and legs. This occurs as a result of damage to the lymph nodes and is a common side effect of cancer treatment.

Lymphedema can be treated with exercise, limb wrapping, massage and compression – all things Hillcrest's specially trained lymphedema therapists' employ.

"For outpatient therapy, we educate our patients and teach them how to properly massage and wrap the affected areas so that patients know what to do on their own at home when a therapist isn't there," Davis explained. "It's important to teach management to the patient and their loved ones so that they know what to look for and be able to collaborate with our therapists in their care."

Davis also emphasized that more rehab more often means a faster recovery for patients.

"So, make sure that you choose a rehab program that offers therapy seven days a week with a team of therapists dedicated to getting you back home as quickly and safely as possible," Davis continued.

Cindy Piontak, an occupational therapy assistant at Hillcrest, said the patients are the best part of her job.

"Getting to know them, and then see them walk out and go home – that gives me the most satisfaction," she said.

This article was written for our sponsor, Hillcrest.

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