Outpatient rehabilitation or outpatient rehab is a form of rehabilitation therapy in which patients travel to a clinic, hospital, or other facility specifically to attend sessions and then leave, rather than remaining hospitalized for the duration of their therapy, as is the case with inpatient rehab. There are a number of different types of outpatient rehab, along with a wide variety of approaches to the rehabilitation process. This type of rehabilitation tends to be less expensive than inpatient rehab, because there are no costs for hospitalization and associated expenses.
While many people think of rehabilitation for substance abuse when they hear the word “rehab,” rehabilitation therapy can actually take a number of forms. It may be used to treat people with speech disorders, for example, along with people recovering from emotional or physical trauma. The goal of rehabilitation is to examine the patient's individual case and develop a treatment plan which will allow him or her to regain or achieve normal function. In physical rehabilitation, for example, a patient recovering from a stroke might learn to walk again with the assistance of a physical therapist.
When patients are admitted into outpatient rehabilitation programs, it indicates that the patients are doing well enough to be allowed out of the hospital, and that their doctors are confident that they will be able to complete a rehabilitation course on an outpatient basis. In some cases, patients start out in outpatient therapy from the beginning, as in the case of someone struggling with substance abuse who wants outpatient counseling. Patients can also graduate to outpatient therapy after undergoing a period of inpatient therapy.
The number of sessions required per week varies, depending on the situation. Some people attend outpatient rehab sessions every day, or even multiple times a day, working with a care team which usually includes a doctor, a nurse, and a therapist. Others attend once a week, or a few times a week, with the number of sessions being scaled back as the patient's condition improves. Eventually, the patient may not require outpatient rehab at all.
This form of rehabilitation requires a commitment from the patient and his or her care team. Patients may need transport to rehab, along with support from friends, family, and employers who are willing to make accommodations for rehabilitation appointments. Some patients may consult with their rehabilitation teams and determine that they would benefit from a period in inpatient therapy even if they are eligible for outpatient rehab, while others may work with their care providers to hold sessions at home or in other off-site locations to make it easier to complete the therapy.