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A Guide to Different Types of Rehabilitation Therapy

If you’ve been seriously injured, undergone surgery or experienced a stroke, your doctor may recommend rehabilitation to help you recover. Rehabilitation therapy offers a controlled, medical environment to help your body heal while you regain strength, relearn skills you lost or find new ways to do activities that may now be difficult.

We asked INTEGRIS’ Scott Anthony to explain the different types of rehabilitation therapy and how each can be beneficial to those inflicted with different injuries or conditions.

Meet Scott Anthony

Scott Anthony is a licensed physical therapist and the administrative director of INTEGRIS Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation. He’s been a practicing therapist since 1998 and has worked in a variety of roles including outpatient rehabilitation, inpatient rehabilitation and acute physical medicine. In his current role, he oversees outpatient and inpatient operations for Jim Thorpe at various sites through the Oklahoma City metro as well as rural locations.

Anthony initially became interested in physical therapy after a sports injury sidelined his athletic pursuits. “Working with a therapist allowed me to recover quickly to get back on the field without pain,” he says. “The ability to positively affect a person’s life by helping them return to what is important to them, whether it is sports, work or basic daily function, is very rewarding and a common draw for most therapists.”

Types of rehabilitation

The three main types of rehabilitation therapy are occupational, physical and speech. Each form of rehabilitation serves a unique purpose in helping a person reach full recovery, but all share the ultimate goal of helping the patient return to a healthy and active lifestyle.

Rehabilitation therapy can be used to treat a wide range of injuries or conditions. “Common conditions treated include orthopedic and musculoskeletal injuries such as sprains/strains/tears or post-surgical rehabilitation, neurological injuries such as stroke, brain injury or spinal cord injury, or multi-trauma injuries due to accidents,” says Anthony. “We also treat less common conditions such as genetic disorders, degenerative diseases and other specialized conditions. We treat all ages from newborns to our oldest patient to date being 104 years old!”

The goal of rehabilitation therapy varies from person to person. "We ask every patient what their goals for rehabilitation are and develop a plan," he says. “This may include different types of therapy such as physical, occupational, speech, music or recreational, and may include different treatment techniques such as therapeutic exercise, manual therapy, neurological re-education or modalities for pain relief, to name a few of the many possible treatment strategies.”

Inpatient vs. outpatient rehabilitation treatments

First, it’s important to define the difference between inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation therapy. Inpatient rehabilitation refers to treatment or therapy you receive in a hospital or clinic prior to being discharged. Patients who go through an amputation, suffer a brain injury or stroke, experience an orthopedic or spinal cord injury or receive a transplant may require inpatient therapy to recover to a point where they can safely go home.

Outpatient rehabilitation therapy refers to treatment received when not admitted to a hospital or clinic. Outpatient therapy centers offer a blend of services from physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists and psychologists. Outpatient rehabilitation centers tend to offer therapy for a wide range of conditions including cancer, neurological disorders, neck and back pain, speech problems, psychological disorders, pre- and post-natal issues and more.

occupational therapy

Occupational therapy

Occupational therapists provide occupational therapy (OT) treatments to help individuals who require specialized assistance to participate in everyday activities, or “occupations.” Occupations don’t just refer to work or your job, but can also refer to self-care practices, everyday tasks and recreational activities. The goal of occupational therapy is to help individuals participate in the things they want and need to do to live an independent and satisfying lifestyle.

Occupational therapists help by making changes to things that hinder someone's ability to complete tasks such as eating, dressing, brushing one’s teeth, completing school activities and working. Modifications may include changing the way the task is approached, changing the environment in which the task is completed or helping a person develop skills necessary to complete certain tasks.  

Who needs occupational therapy?

Occupational therapy may be needed by people of all ages, from newborns to seniors. There are endless ways in which occupational therapy may help these individuals, such as:

  • Children with physical disabilities may need a therapist to help them develop the coordination needed to feed themselves, use a computer or improve their handwriting.
  • Adults with depression may require recommendations from a therapist to re-engage in daily activities gradually and in a manner that maximizes their chances for success.
  • An individual who has lost the ability to hold a fork due to an injury may work with a therapist to regain grip strength and modify movements so that they can feed themselves independently.
  • Seniors with physical limitations may need help from a therapist to participate in activities they love in new and modified ways.
  • Those who have suffered a spinal cord injury may require therapist intervention to help them avoid movements or behaviors that may worsen their injuries.
  • Corporate professionals may work with a therapist to create an optimal work/life balance designed to reduce stress and maximize health or modify their work environment based on ergonomic principles.
  • An individual who has experienced a traumatic brain injury and lost cognitive function may require a therapist to assist them with tasks such as applying to jobs or submitting college applications.

physical therapy

Physical therapy

Physical therapists provide treatment for those who are experiencing pain or difficulty in functioning, moving or living life normally.

Physical therapy is commonly used to relieve pain, improvement movement, provide rehabilitation after a stroke, injury or surgery, assist in recovery after giving birth, assist in the recovery of sports-related injuries, teach individuals how to use devices such as walkers and canes, manage chronic illnesses like heart disease or arthritis, and more.

If physical therapy is recommended by your doctor, a therapist will start by assessing your mobility, balance, heartbeat, posture and how well you can walk or climb steps. From there, your therapist will develop a plan to ease symptoms and help you regain functionality or mobility. Common therapies include:

  • Special exercises and stretches designed to relieve pain, improve mobility or regain strength
  • Massage, heat or cold therapy or ultrasound to ease muscle pain and spasms
  • Rehab and exercises to help you learn to use an artificial limb
  • Practicing with gadgets that assist in movement or balance, such as canes, crutches, walkers or wheelchairs
  • Balance and gait retraining
  • Pain management
  • Cardiovascular strengthening
  • Casting, splinting, burn care or use of orthotics (braces or splints)

 speech therapy

Speech therapy

Speech therapists (or speech-language pathologists) provide treatment for those who have speech issues. Speech therapy can help treat a wide variety of issues involving language, communication, voice, swallowing and fluency. For newborns, a speech therapist may help with conditions such as cerebral palsy, cleft palate or Down syndrome that cause difficulties with drinking, swallowing or communicating.

Children with speech issues such as stammering or a lisp can benefit from communication exercises under the instruction of a therapist. Adults with learning difficulties or who have another condition, such as stroke, neck or head cancer, Parkinson’s disease or dementia, can also benefit from the help of a speech therapist.

The goal of speech therapy is to combine the mechanics associated with speech with the use of language. The end result is to help the patient communicate in more useful and functional ways.

Common tactics used by speech therapists include language intervention activities (language drills to practice communication skills), articulation therapy (demonstrating how to move the tongue to create certain sounds), and feeding and swallowing therapy (tongue, lip and jaw exercises designed to strengthen the muscles of the mouth and throat).

Conditions or illnesses that may require a speech therapist include:

  • Dyslexia - difficulty reading accurately and fluently
  • Dyspraxia - difficulty controlling muscle function for movement, coordination, language or speech
  • Aphasia - a loss of ability to understand or express speech due to brain damage
  • Dysphagia - difficulty swallowing
  • Articulation problems - difficulty speaking clearly and making errors in sounds
  • Fluency problems - difficulty with the flow of speech, such as stuttering
  • Resonance or voice problems - difficulty with voice pitch, volume and quality
  • Oral feeding problems - difficulty with eating, swallowing or drooling
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Cleft palate
  • Down syndrome
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Cancer of the head, neck or throat

Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation

INTEGRIS Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation has offered both inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services since 1985. The team of physicians, nurses, psychologists, therapists, dietitians, social workers and case managers are part of one of the largest and most respected systems for rehabilitation needs in the U.S. 

INTEGRIS Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation provides acute care therapy services, inpatient rehabilitation and outpatient rehabilitation at multiple locations in the Oklahoma City metro area and across the state. 

“Jim Thorpe is unique in that we have an internal clinical development department dedicated to maintaining the most current treatment strategies for our patients,” says Anthony. “We are able to provide specialized, innovative treatments, such as dry needling for neuro-musculoskeletal pain and movement impairments, pelvic floor therapy for urinary or fecal incontinence, VitalStim electrical stimulation for swallowing issues, PWR UP! Therapy for patients with Parkinson’s disease and a multitude of other services not found in traditional rehabilitation programs.”

INTEGRIS Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation is accredited by the Joint Commission, the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) and is the only rehabilitation facility in Oklahoma to receive three hospital specialty accreditations for its stroke, brain and spinal cord injury program. “Our large size allows us to have specialized equipment, such as the Lokomat and Ekso bionic exoskeleton, to assist patients with movement and ambulation, both of which are one of only two in the state,” he says.

If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury, stroke, brain tumor, spinal cord injury, amputation or orthopedic injury, INTEGRIS Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation is ready to help.

“From minor issues to life-changing injuries, we are here to understand our patients’ needs and guide them through the rehabilitation process to achieve their desired goals, getting them back to their life,” says Anthony. “Recovery from an injury or illness, whether major or minor, can be daunting and challenging. Our team is passionate about helping all of our patients be the best they can be. We bring an unprecedented range of therapies, technologies and experts to help each patient achieve their goals.”

If you have questions or would like to schedule treatment, please contact INTEGRIS Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation.

·         Outpatient questions or referrals: (405) 945-4500

·         Inpatient questions or referrals: (405) 644-5356

·         General email inquiries: [email protected].