What is Inpatient Rehabilitation?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Inpatient rehabilitation is a rehabilitation service offered to people in a residential setting, rather than to people who travel to a clinic for rehabilitation appointments. People usually attend inpatient rehabilitation programs because they require extensive physical or emotional support, and outpatient programs cannot meet their needs. Inpatient rehab, as it is also known, is offered in a variety of settings, ranging from private clinics in remote locations for people struggling with drug addiction to physical rehabilitation programs attached to hospitals so that residents can quickly access emergency medical care if they require it.

Inpatient rehabilitation offers help to those suffering from drug addiction.
Inpatient rehabilitation offers help to those suffering from drug addiction.

Rehabilitation services can be provided to people with physical or psychological needs. Inpatient physical rehabilitation programs are usually used to help people who have suffered severe physical trauma, such as burn victims, bombing victims, and people who have been involved in major car accidents. The rehabilitation program includes sessions to help patients develop physical strength, learn to use their bodies, and adjust to prosthetics and other assistive devices.

Inpatient rehabilitation typically includes counseling.
Inpatient rehabilitation typically includes counseling.

In an inpatient physical rehabilitation program, patients typically have a very structured day. Part of the day is devoted to follow-up medical care which is designed to address ongoing physical issues, and part of the day involves physical and occupational therapy to help the patient build up strength and skills. The earlier patients start physical therapy, the better the outcome tends to be, and inpatient rehabilitation facilities offer patients the opportunity to get necessary complex medical care while getting back on track with their lives. These facilities also often offer psychological support, as physical trauma can be emotionally draining.

Inpatient physical rehabilitation may help a patient recover basic skills after an injury or illness.
Inpatient physical rehabilitation may help a patient recover basic skills after an injury or illness.

Psychological rehabilitation can include assistance with recovery from drug addiction, along with rehabilitation for people with mental illness. This type of inpatient rehabilitation provides patients with a structured environment in which to work on emotional issues, in a supportive space with other patients and care providers. Since contact with the outside world can sometimes hinder emotional recovery, inpatient rehab also creates a dedicated space without outside influences to help patients deal with the most difficult periods of their recovery.

Rehab centers may offer detox services for people battling a narcotics addiction.
Rehab centers may offer detox services for people battling a narcotics addiction.

After successful completion of an inpatient rehabilitation program, patients usually graduate to an outpatient program. Outpatient services may take place in the same facility or in another facility. They often start with daily appointments which may last several hours, with the length and number of appointments decreasing over time as the patient develops independence and proves that he or she no longer needs rehabilitation services.

Inpatient rehabilitation programs can help people dealing with an addiction to prescription painkillers.
Inpatient rehabilitation programs can help people dealing with an addiction to prescription painkillers.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

Anupama Singh

Psychological therapy is very effective treatment in rehabilitation and numbers of addicts have got the benefits from this. There are various addicted people who suffer from mental illness and the structural environment provided by inpatient treatment plays an essential role in their relief. That is why if any children are suffering from addiction then parents should join them in inpatient rehabilitation programs.


Comfyshoes- I agree with you because a person has to want to change.

I was recently watching a documentary on the inpatient rehabilitation hospital Brookhaven in New York.

It is a rehabilitation hospital that treats morbidly obese patients. Many of these patients are no longer mobile and this hospital is their last chance at recapturing their lives.

They receive group counseling along with individual and family counseling and weekly status meetings regarding any challenges the patient may have had.

They also receive physical and occupational therapy with the goal of getting the patients to the point that they are able to exercise daily which is when they really start to lose weight.

Like the drug addicts these people are addicted to food and some may not even be ready to change their ways even when they reach the hospital.

There was a case of a man that snuck in junk food and was not following the diet even though the doctors told him that if he does not change he might not live to see his next birthday.

For most people the fear of death is motivating enough, but it is not for all people.

I imagine that there must be a certain level of depression and hopelessness that goes along with this type of addiction because once your mobility goes the quality of your life starts to deteriorate quickly.


GreenWeaver - I agree. I also want to say that I think that it is important for the patient to want to change.

So many inpatients rehabilitation services for drug and alcohol addiction do not work on people that are not ready to give up the drug. For example, Charlie Sheen infamous for his excessive drug use wants to do his drug rehab therapy in his home.

This is really not recommended because in a rehab center there is accountability that is not found in your own home.

A drug addict really has to be willing to change and disassociate themselves with their past which it does not look like Charlie Sheen is willing to do.

I do hope that he finds the help that he needs, but I do feel that an inpatient rehabilitation unit would have worked better for him.


I think that inpatient drug rehabilitation is important because the treatment is so complicated and the best most effective treatment for drug abuse involves a measure of accountability.

At an inpatient drug rehabilitation center a person could receive medication to wean themselves from the drug as well as cognitive behavioral therapy that will help him cope with the need to use the drug in the first place.

Drug addiction is so powerful that even if the drug addict can stop using the drug the urge to go back will always be there which is why therapy is so important.

Many people that leave an inpatient alcohol rehabilitation or a an inpatient drug rehabilitation center continue to go on to alcoholics anonymous or narcotics anonymous so that they can continue their therapy in a group therapy environment where they can learn from other addicts.

Addictions are really destructive but when a person understands that they are not alone in their suffering it offers a therapeutic healing value to addict.

This along with the sponsor will hold the addict accountable which is a necessary measure in order to treat an addiction of any kind.

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