Rehabilitation Centers: Inpatient and Outpatient

What's the difference between inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation centers?

If you have an illness, have suffered an injury, had undergone surgery, or went through a severe medical condition, then you may have been referred to a physical therapist. As your treatment program is underway, there will be an evaluation of your health and what type of physical therapy rehabilitation centers setup will work best for you.

Whether or not you need outpatient therapy or inpatient rehab will be up to your specific situation. In today’s post, we’ll look at the main differences between the two rehabilitation centers setup.

No Two Patient Conditions Are the Same

The type of rehabilitative program you need will depend on your condition.

Even if two patients are experiencing the same injury or the same illness, their circumstances will always be different. There’s no one-size-fits-all treatment and care solution. However, understanding the vital facts and differences about the rehabilitative care you get from different rehabilitation centers will get you one step closer to achieving ideal recovery results.

Inpatient and Outpatient Rehabilitation Centers: Differences

Inpatient Rehabilitation Centers

When you’re under an inpatient rehab program, you’ll need to stay in inpatient rehabilitation centers for the duration of your rehabilitative care. Simply put, this means being admitted to the center and staying there – similar to a hospital stay – until you have completed the treatment.

The length of the treatment program, and consequently, your stay, will range anywhere from overnight, two days, a few weeks, or a month. The short-term treatment programs will all depend on your specific needs, condition, and recovery goals – as recommended by a healthcare specialist.

The treatment programs can also be conducted in stand-alone rehabilitation centers, separate departments of hospitals, or in nursing clinics. Patients admitted to inpatient rehabilitation centers undergo a physician-led and strictly coordinated schedule of multidisciplinary rehabilitative care by different healthcare specialists.

When Is Inpatient Rehab Needed?

The inpatient rehab option may be ideal under specific circumstances. For instance, if the patient has had joint replacement procedure or other complex surgeries, or if he or she is recovering from a severe injury, comprehensive, round-the-clock, and intensive therapy is the best recovery option.

Rehabilitative Care

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These rehabilitative specialists will usually involve nutritionists, nursing staff, physical therapists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, counselors, among others. Again, it will depend on the specific condition and needs of the patient.

Admission to inpatient rehabilitation centers equates to submitting yourself to extensive rehabilitative care. Typically, you’ll work with your therapists for hours daily, depending on your capacity. Inpatient rehabilitation centers also allow you to have access to rehab equipment, 24-hour in-house staff, medical monitoring, meals, personal care, and other necessities.


Inpatient rehab centers also have exclusive amenities to make their patients’ stay as comfortable as possible. These amenities include spas, indoor and outdoor pools, game rooms, internet access, and other facilities for sports and recreational activities.

Outpatient Rehabilitation Centers

Compared to inpatient rehabilitation centers, an outpatient rehab program doesn’t require you to stay in a facility. You can get your rehabilitative care and treatment through scheduled visits to a private physical therapy practice or clinic.

Outpatient rehab program can last from a day to a week - depending on your condition.

The services you can get from outpatient rehabilitation programs generally include occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy.

Some outpatient rehab centers may also include nutritional counselors, psychologists, and other rehabilitation specialists.

Patient appointments at outpatient rehab centers may range anywhere from a day to a week. The length of the session will depend on the condition of the patient. Generally, it can last from half an hour to a full one. If you’re required to see more than one specialist, you may have to go to individual appointments.

Even if you’re recovery and treatment activities happen at the clinic, you are advised and expected to do exercises, stretches, and other prescribed activities at home after your in-house sessions. You must follow through with these activities to stay on track of your recovery.

When Is Outpatient Rehab Needed?

Outpatient rehabilitation centers are the perfect recovery site for those who need help to restore their health after experiencing illnesses, minor injuries, or other health conditions. The critical thing to remember about outpatient services is this: it’s for patients who are confident they can be independent should they continue their recovery at home.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, your doctor will give expert advice and recommendations on your rehabilitation centers option and the best course of action for your recovery.

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