Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How long will I have to stay in rehab?

A: Depending on the level of injury, a typical patient with paraplegia stays 4 to6 weeks and a patient with quadriplegia stays 6 to 8 weeks.

Q: When can my family visit?

A: Family members may visit with patients during the following hours: 

Monday – Friday 2 pm until 8 pm

Saturday – Sunday 10 am until 8 pm

Family members are encouraged to schedule days to come in and work with the therapist and patient on the training they will need when they return home.

Q: What is my therapy schedule?

A: Patients typically have therapy for 3 to 4 hours a day during the week, an hour on Saturday, and sometimes on Sunday. Patients are seen for an hour and a half each day for physical therapy and occupational therapy. Recreation therapy and speech therapy is 30 minutes to an hour daily.

Q: What is the difference between physical therapy and occupational therapy?

A: In physical therapy, patients with spinal cord injuries will have an exercise program designed to improve their strength, balance, and ability to move. Physical therapists will perform range of motion exercises to prevent patients' muscles and joints from becoming stiff and develop an exercise program to strengthen the muscles that do work. They will educate the patients on rolling techniques for bed mobility, transferring from the bed to wheelchair, and ways to change their position without losing their balance. A physical therapist will teach patients how to use a wheelchair. The therapist will instruct the patient on walking aides and/or other equipment and devices when appropriate. The patients’ physical therapist will also assist in the selection of equipment and home modifications.

In occupational therapy, patients with spinal cord injuries re-learn activities of daily living, such as feeding, dressing, bathing, toileting, and home management. Patients learn the techniques, with appropriate assistance, to transfer to the toilet and the tub or shower. Patients are given instructions to use adaptive techniques required for feeding, dressing, bathing, and toileting, as necessary. Patients are educated about how to use techniques to achieve the optimum positioning and how to use the most appropriate equipment to make their activities of daily living successful while increasing independence. Activities such as a home exercise program may be performed to help increase the patient’s strength and coordination. An occupational therapist also may suggest special equipment or other changes that need to be made in the home.

Q: What is the difference between a complete injury and an incomplete injury?

A: In a complete injury, there is total damage of the spinal cord at the level of injury. There is no feeling or movement below the level of injury.

In an incomplete injury, there is partial spinal cord damage at the level of injury. Some feeling and/or movement remains below the level of injury.

Q: What changes need to be made at home before the patient leaves rehab?

A: During family conferences, each therapist working with the patient will discuss possible equipment options to be used at home and possible modifications such as a wheelchair ramp. Home evaluations are done to recommend any further changes that would be required at home. A home evaluation involves a therapist coming to your house to determine the setup and make specific recommendations to make the transition to home more successful when the patient returns home.

Q: Will I be able to drive again?

A: There is a driving program at our outpatient rehabilitation center. This driving program is designed to determine if a person has physical abilities to safely operate an automobile. Our occupational therapist conducts the clinical evaluation in addition to an on-the-road assessment to determine the client’s strengths and limitations. During the evaluation, the occupational therapist will assess the individual’s ability to return to driving safely, as well as determine if any type of adaptive devices or equipment may be necessary. When appropriate, vans may be adapted with hand controls, lifts and other devices to make driving successful for patients in a wheelchair. A physician referral is needed for this service. 

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Last Updated: 12-02-2014
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Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general informational purposes only and SHOULD NOT be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice, evaluation or care from your physician or other qualified health care provider.