Whether it’s an illness or injury, physical rehabilitation is a big part of recovery for many patients. Some patients require more than one type of therapy and can benefit from a facility that offers several types of services, including occupational, speech and physical therapy, in addition to nursing care and education. Recognizing this need, NCH has expanded its existing Outpatient Center, located at 3300 Kirchoff Road in Rolling Meadows.
Rehab Services Manager Marquita Robinson-Altman, MS-OTR/L, (licensed registered occupational therapist) explains what’s offered and how these services help patients.
Can you briefly describe the facility and how it’s changed?
The Outpatient Center has been here for about eight years. We recently created more private treatment rooms, extended our registration area in the lobby and added Day Rehab so that we can accommodate outpatient and Day Rehab patients.
How do you help the patients overall?
In addition to the outpatient physical rehab this site has long provided, our expansion allows us to also see Day Rehab patients. These are patients who benefit from more intensive and frequent therapy visits. We help patients to become mobile and independent. We do vocational rehabilitation for people who were working prior to their injury or illness. Through our assessments and treatment, we determine whether or not they can go back to that job again. Though many patients make a full recovery, some patients cannot return to the same type of job they were doing. In this case, we find out what gives their life purpose. It’s not always about returning to a job. They can make progress, and it may be that we help them find purpose in a new lifestyle, one that is rewarding, safe and meaningful.
Who are the professionals who work there and what do they do?
The Day Rehab Program has dedicated physical, occupational and speech therapists and a registered nurse. Our nurse educates patients, provides follow-up nursing care and works as a case manager coordinating patient care. Physiatrist Rahul Sharma, M.D. is the Medical Director of the program.
What types of patients are cared for in Day Rehab?
We see anyone who needs intensive therapy after a neurological diagnosis, such as those who have suffered a stroke, traumatic brain injury patients (TBI), concussion, and patients with other neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis. Day Rehab also can serve patients who have orthopedic issues, but those with neurological diagnoses are more commonly treated.
Does a physician refer a patient to Day Rehab or can a patient or family member request it?
Patients can come here with an order from any physician. We’re expecting that we’ll get most of our referrals from inpatient acute rehab, but patients also can transition from an acute hospital stay, from a skilled nursing facility or from home therapy services.
Can you describe how services differ from acute physical rehab at the hospital?
Acute Rehab patients still require inpatient medical care. When they come to Day Rehab, they no longer have acute medical needs. That is one of the biggest differences. Day Rehab patients are medically stable enough to be home and are primed and ready for intense, frequent outpatient rehab during the day.
What criteria must be met in order to be considered for Day Rehab?
Day Rehab patients need services from more than one discipline, typically for at least three days per week. They may need physical therapy and occupational therapy, or physical therapy and speech therapy, for example. Some patients require all three disciplines.
Does Day Rehab mean patients spend the entire day, every day there?
No, but when they’re here, it can be three to five days a week and three to four hours a day. It’s more intense. These patients are well enough to be home but they need a more intense program to become more independent.
Are there any other specialists who see Day Rehab patients?
We refer to other specialists when needed, including a neuropsychologist and neuro-ophthalmologist, among others.
How long does it take to rehabilitate a Day Rehab patient?
A stay can be anywhere from a month to a few months. It depends on how severe the patient’s problem is.
How do you set goals with your patients?
We screen patients so we can look at deficits. For example, if someone is not driving and would like to start driving, we want to make sure he or she is going to be safe. We look at attention span, problem solving, any skill that’s needed for driving. We take this same approach to look at other activities patients were doing prior to their illness or injury that they wish to resume.
We look at the whole person and how that individual functions on a daily basis. Our nurse Heather also helps patients in a navigator role, assisting with finding community resources. She conducts interviews and asks questions, monitors vitals, blood sugar and general medical status.
One patient’s story
Mount Prospect resident Ken Paschelke, 53, suffered an unknown head injury while on vacation during Labor Day weekend. He saw his primary care physician who sent him to the NCH Emergency Department. There, a CT scan revealed that he had a severe brain injury with subsequent bleeding on the brain. It was such a high volume of blood – 12 millileters – doctors were shocked he was still alive. He immediately went into brain surgery with neurosurgeon Shaun O’Leary, M.D.
“There’s a ton of rehab with brain surgery,” he says. “I first went to Acute Rehab for three weeks. I was in a lot of pain and didn’t know if I was ever going to walk or talk again.”
With help from therapists in Acute Rehab, Ken quickly graduated to a walker and was released on Oct. 17.
“All the therapists were wonderful,” Ken says. “I was very lucky. I dodged a big bullet.”
From Acute Rehab, Ken went directly to Day Rehab.
“I can actually come here and leave by myself with the help of a ride,” he says. “I can’t tell you how great everybody in this whole facility has been to me. Through all of this, I have not one negative thing to say and I’m a very tough critic. I’ve had the most incredible experience here.”
Ken visits Day Rehab two to three times a week and works with all three disciplines: physical, speech and occupational therapy. His overall goals are to begin walking and driving again.
For more information on Day Rehab, call 847-618-3880 or visit nch.org/dayrehab to learn more.