Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities, known as IRFs or I-R-Fs, are hospitals for patients who have had an injury such as a fall, an illness, perhaps a new stroke, or a flare-up of a chronic impairment or surgery, often a joint replacement or heart operation, some event that has limited their functions. Their doctors have determined they are medically stable and physically able to receive at least three hours of therapy five days a week. Their rehab plan will include some combination of physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech or language therapy, and in some cases the fitting and adapting to orthotics. IRF patients are cared for under the direction of a physician with specialty training, and rehabilitation. Therapy is targeted at physical conditions that currently prevent them from functioning at home or from receiving their care at a lower level, perhaps at a nursing center or in assisted living. The programs are individualized, customized to the patient’s abilities, tolerance for therapy, and personal goals. Focus is placed on maximizing mobility and independence and performing what we call activities of daily living, such as bathing or getting dressed. Therapy may involve walking or using a wheelchair, adapting to an artificial limb, or safely moving from one surface to another, such as getting in and out of bed or in and out of a car. Sometimes the initial therapy is focused on balance and coordination, but in all cases the goal is to build function and endurance. For those with the neurologic impairment, IRFs offer cognitive retraining to improve memory and judgment. Patients get the most from rehab if they are mentally able to follow instructions so they can learn to care for themselves at home, sometimes with the help of a trained caregiver. A speech and language therapist may work to help recover or improve speech and writing skills, and, if needed, swallowing coordination so that food maybe eaten safely. People often wonder what is the difference between an IRF and a skilled nursing facility or SNF. Kindred operates both and we can help you decide between the two. IRFs are often the best option for patients who have a moderate to severe disability and would benefit from daily involvement of physical medicine doctors and often physicians from other specialties. Many IRF patients have respiratory impairments and receive treatment by full-time respiratory therapists. In fact, IRF patients often have several co-existing conditions such as diabetes, hypertension or congestive heart failure, things that need close monitoring, while teaching the patient to manage these conditions at home. SNFs may be more appropriate for patients who have less need for the intensity of IRF services, including those who only need or only can tolerate one or two hours of therapy at a time. This may be due to dementia or mental or physical disability severe enough to limit their ability to care for themselves. If you or a loved one are wondering if treatment at a Kindred IRF may be appropriate, Kindred case managers, in partnership with a patient’s physician, family member, and insurance company will work together to determine if IRF-level care is the best choice for you to continue the care.