Subacute Inpatient Rehabilitation

Subacute rehabilitation is a form of inpatient care designed for patients who require a level of treatment between intensive round-the-clock hospital care and independent living. Its interdisciplinary, goal-oriented approach is successful in treating patients after, or instead of, a period of acute hospitalization. During subacute care, a customized program is created for each patient, including the skilled nursing care and various types of therapy needed for full recovery.

With the particular patient's needs and goals in mind, a team of therapists is assembled and the patient will undergo between 1 and 2 hours of therapy daily, usually several days to a few weeks. There are, however, situations in which patients remain in subacute care for many months or even longer. Because the treatment is residential, patients have access to onsite doctors and nurses throughout their period of subacute care.

Conditions Requiring Subacute Rehabilitation

Patients require subacute care for a variety of reasons. They may be recovering from surgery, injury or illness. Whatever the situation, subacute care is prescribed to assist patients to maximize their abilities and function more independently. Patients may require subacute care if they have undergone one of the following surgeries:

  • Spinal
  • Brain
  • Joint replacement
  • Heart
  • Amputation

Subacute care may also be prescribed, under certain circumstances, for the following conditions

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Respiratory disease
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Peripheral vascular disease (PVD)
  • Cancer

Patients with any of the above may require subacute care in order to regain new abilities or adjust to a new level of functioning. In either case, this care is tailored to maximize patients' potential and enable them to attain as much self-sufficiency as possible.

Subacute Rehabilitation Treatments

Subacute care begins with a thorough medical evaluation of patient needs and the assemblage of a therapeutic team to meet those needs. A case manager will also be assigned to oversee the patient's treatment. Once the care plan is in place, the schedule for various required therapies and nursing services will be established.

Nursing Treatments

Subacute nursing treatments include complex wound care, ventilator programs, intravenous feeding, infusion therapy, and pain management. These treatments are usually administered several times a day as necessary for a total of approximately 3 hours.

Therapy Services

Many types of therapy are available when a patient is under subacute care. Depending on individual need, the patient may undergo some or all of the following:

  • Art Therapy
  • Nutritional therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Recreational therapy
  • Respiratory therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Psychosocial therapy
  • Pastoral Care

These therapies assist the patient in regaining physical strength and emotional stability, relearning methods of performing everyday activities and establishing new habits to promote future health and well-being.

Auxiliary Services

Subacute care facilities also offer supplementary services as needed. Typically, a subacute campus includes a medical laboratory, a pharmacy, diagnostic testing equipment and durable medical equipment, and provides orthotic and prosthetic services.

In addition, case managers and social workers are available to help patients deal with family issues surrounding treatment and to provide a smooth transition to the next level of care.

Additional Resources