Acute Rehabilitation


Acute rehabilitation is a program, usually based in a hospital, that helps people who have experienced some major injury, disorder or illness to regain the skills needed to return to everyday living. Using a multidisciplinary team approach, the inpatient rehabilitation program covers everything from regaining the ability to walk after an amputation, to talking after a stroke, to being able to safely take daily medications after a serious illness. Rehabilitation can be used to retrain a person on the basics of activities of daily living or may be used to help an elderly person recover from a fall.

Inpatient rehabilitation hospitals/units are licensed and certified facilities, which primarily promote special rehabilitative health care services rather than general medical and surgical services. Rehabilitation is defined as restoration of a disabled person to self-sufficiency or maximal possible functional independence. An inpatient rehabilitation program utilizes an inter-disciplinary coordinated team approach that involves a minimum of three (3) hours rehabilitation services daily. These services may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, cognitive therapy, respiratory therapy, psychology services, prosthetic/orthotic services, or a combination thereof. The setting for inpatient rehabilitation is principally determined by the individual’s medical and functional status and the ability of the rehabilitation facility to provide the necessary level of care. Acute inpatient rehabilitation is required when an individual’s medical status is such that the intensity of services required could not reasonably be provided in an alternative setting (subacute facility or outpatient rehabilitation department). Examples of conditions requiring acute inpatient rehabilitation include, but are not limited to, individuals with significant functional disabilities associated with stroke, spinal cord injuries, acquired brain injuries, major trauma and burns.

Admission Criteria:
Acute inpatient rehabilitation services are medically necessary when all of the following are present:

1. Individual has a new (acute) medical condition or an acute exacerbation of a chronic condition that has resulted in a significant decrease in functional ability such that they cannot adequately recover in a less intensive setting; AND
2. Individual’s overall medical condition and medical needs either identify a risk for medical instability or a requirement for physician and other personnel involvement generally not available outside the hospital inpatient setting; AND
3. Individual requires an intensive inter-disciplinary, coordinated rehabilitation program (as defined in the description of service) with a minimum of three (3) hours active participation daily; AND
4. Individual is medically stable enough to no longer require the services of a medical/surgical inpatient setting; AND
The individual is capable of actively participating in a rehabilitation program, as evidenced by a mental status demonstrating responsiveness to verbal, visual, and/or tactile stimuli and ability to follow simple commands. For additional information regarding cognitive status, please refer to the Rancho Los Amigos Cognitive Scale; AND
5. Individual’s mental and physical condition prior to the illness or injury indicates there is significant potential for improvement; AND
6. Individual is expected to show measurable functional improvement within a maximum of seven (7) to fourteen (14) days (depending on the underlying diagnosis/medical condition) of admission to the inpatient rehabilitation program; AND
7. The necessary rehabilitation services will be prescribed by a physician, and require close medical supervision and skilled nursing care with the 24-hour availability of a nurse and physician who are skilled in the area of rehabilitation medicine; AND
Therapy includes discharge plan.
Note: It is not necessary that there is an expectation of complete independence in the activities of daily living; but there should be a reasonable expectation of improvement that is of practical value to the individual, measured against his condition at the start of the rehabilitation program. Additionally, the individual must have no lasting or major treatment impediment that prevents progress. (For example severe dementia).

For more information about Medicare, visit, or call
1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.