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What to Expect When You Need Rehab

A determined effort—and the right rehabilitation facility— can help you get back to the active life you enjoy

While many medical treatments bring rapid improvement, complete recovery from an illness, injury or procedure can be a slow, challenging process. That’s where rehabilitation comes in.

At Westchester Medical Center’s Acute Rehabilitation Unit, a specialized team of expert clinicians gives recovering individuals comprehensive, 24-hour care that is compassionate in the truest sense: it challenges those patients to do their part.

Rehab’s objective, says Mario Nelson, M.D., Director of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, is “to increase strength and endurance so that the patient is able to perform activities of daily living independently, to the best of his or her functional ability.”

For patients who may be out of condition after surgery or a long illness, that may mean physical rehab, including exercises to recondition muscles and rebuild stamina. For stroke patients, it may include occupational therapy, speech therapy or other targeted rehab to regain any lost function or to learn how to live with a permanent disability. For joint replacement, rehab builds strength and increases mobility so that the new joint works to its optimal ability.

“Whatever their condition, patients have to understand that rehab does not happen overnight,” Dr. Nelson says. “It is a slow process, and while some people naturally become frustrated, the key to successful rehab is to stay motivated.” Rehab professionals not only coach patients through the physical demands of therapy, but also offer emotional support and encouragement. And a primary care doctor can recommend a mental health provider to help an individual overcome the depression and anxiety that may be natural responses to illness or injury.

Smart lifestyle choices, too, are critical to a patient’s rehabilitation. “You need to follow proper diet and exercise habits,” Dr. Nelson advises, “and stay away from behaviors like smoking or alcohol use that might slow down your recovery.”

Throughout the rehab process, your therapists will consult with your primary doctor and specialists to monitor your progress and recommend changes to keep you on the path to full recovery. And that’s the bottom line. Says Dr. Nelson: “Rehab is the time to put your focus on feeling better, and getting back to what you enjoy doing in life.”

Reasons for Rehab

Among the diagnoses for which care is provided at Westchester Medical Center’s Acute Rehabilitation Unit are:

  • stroke
traumatic brain injury

  • spinal cord injury

  • amputations
multi-trauma injury

  • neurological illnesses such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease

The Rehab Team

At Westchester Medical Center’s Acute Rehabilitation Unit, the professionals who provide care include:

  • physiatrists (physicians who specialize in physical medicine and rehabilitation)
  • rehab nurses

  • physical, occupational and speech therapists
  • care managers
social workers

  • pastoral care providers

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