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A new way to look at rehab

Lisa M. Davila

Created date

December 25th, 2012

Few people look forward to rehab. Whether you need to work on strengthening a newly replaced joint, or if you need multiple therapies to help heal from a stroke, a rehabilitation regimen can seem like a long and difficult road. The rehabilitation process used to be based strictly on a medical model of recovery, says Jonathan Garber, vice president of business development at Erickson Living. You d receive physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, or a combination of services depending on your health needs. Once rehab was complete, you were on your own. Rehabilitation services are certainly valuable. Physical therapy can help you get stronger; occupational therapy can help you learn how to work around functional limitations; and speech-language therapy can help with hearing, speech, voice quality, or swallowing problems. But now, trends are moving toward adding another dimension to the rehab journey: fitness, or more accurately, wellness. The International Council on Active Aging is a strong proponent of the integration of rehab and wellness it is noted as one of the trends transforming the care of today s seniors, says Tracie Bettano, rehabilitation manager at Brooksby, an Erickson Living community in Peabody, Mass.

How integration helps you

There s a long-term focus in the rehab/wellness integration concept, Garber explains. It goes beyond recovery to illness prevention and achieving your best health. Rehabilitation and wellness as specialties have always had common goals, so integrating the two departments makes good sense for a number of reasons. It makes the way we deliver these services to residents more efficient and less costly for the community, Bettano explains. Integration eliminates delays in transitioning between the two departments. Once rehab is complete, you don t have to wait for a referral to start wellness services. Our residents report a great deal of satisfaction with the ease of transitioning among services, says Amy Simberg, fitness and wellness manager at Brooksby. It s a quick and seamless process. Communication and coordination are key concepts as you move through the continuum. All of your care is coordinated for you, Bettano says. You don t have to keep telling your story over and over to different professionals. We communicate among ourselves and already know about you before you begin any portion of the program. Coordination of your care extends to everyone involved in your health care. Your doctor is an important part of the team. Everyone actively communicates about your treatment plan, and you are consulted throughout the process, Garber explains.

Wellness: not just bells and whistles

Wellness services include everything the fitness center has to offer. You can take full advantage of the equipment; the expertise of fitness trainers; and classes in balance, strengthening, and even memory fitness, Simberg says. Add to that personal trainers, who are no longer reserved for celebrities who want to look great for the camera. Our personal training services are designed for people who have reached a plateau in rehab but want guidance in how to maximize their activity level, Simberg says. Personal training helps you get comfortable in a routine that you can continue on your own. More residents are opting for these services and realizing the many benefits. Where you receive services is your personal choice. You can get personal training in outpatient rehab or physical therapy in the fitness center. Bettano describes an example, Along with having your physical therapy exercises at home or in the outpatient center, why not do them in the fitness center pool?

A personalized, flexible program

The program doesn t work in only one direction from rehab to wellness. You can jump into the process practically anywhere, depending on your needs, Bettano says. You can start in the fitness center to get stronger before a surgery, for instance. Or if you have arthritis and use fitness services, you may want to add some physical therapy to help with your range of motion. Regardless of where you come into it, flexibility is the name of the game. You always have a personal choice about which services you want to participate in, Bettano explains. We make sure you know about all of the opportunities available, and help you design a program that works for you based on your wants, needs, and abilities. Having the teams work together as one goes a long way in helping you maintain your motivation, Garber says. Everyone is there to help you measure each step in your progress and cheer you on.