What’s the Difference Between Acute Rehab and Subacute Rehab?

“”Rehabilitation,” or rehab,  is much more than a simple catch-all word for a recovery program; there are many different types of rehabilitation geared toward patients at all levels of recovery. So what’s the difference between acute rehab and subacute rehab?

What’s acute rehab?

Acute rehab is intense rehab for patients who have experienced a major medical trauma and need serious efforts to aid in recovery. Some patients may have had a stroke, just come out of major surgery, had an amputation, or may still be dealing with a serious illness. Most of these patients will not be able to fully recover without the aid of intense therapy and medical assistance, or would not be able to recover in a reasonable amount of time. Acute care patients usually come straight from the hospital, opening up beds for patients who need medical help, and they come to rehab when they are stable, but still need a tremendous amount of assistance that they wouldn’t be able to receive in a home setting. An acute stay is usually not long, since the “acute” portion of the rehab moves to a lower stage of rehab when the patient is progressing. The acute care patient has 3-5 hours of therapy every day, with a mix of speech, physical, occupational, and other acute therapies, such as respiratory therapy or electromagnetic therapies. He is seen by as physician, or a team of physicians, every day to mark progress and make recommendations for continuation of rehabilitation. Acute patients are expected to make fast progress and move up a level out of acute rehab.

What is subacute rehab?

Subacute rehab is a level lower than acute rehab in terms of intensity, of the patient’s condition and also of the rehab efforts. Patients may move straight into a subacute facility from the hospital if their rehab needs are not acute, or they may switch from acute rehab to subacute rehab in a facility if their situation changes. A patient can also move from an a specific acute care facility to a subacute facility, like Hudson View, once their situation has progressed and their needs have changed. Hudson View has staff specifically trained in subacute care and an environment geared toward progress in rehabilitation. In subacute rehab, there’s only about 2 hours of therapy a day, and periodic visits from a doctor. There are, however, daily visits from nurses and other staff to stay on top of the patient’s situation in case there are any changes that need a quick response. For example, a diabetes patient that’s recovering from amputation might be doing well in subacute rehab, but a nurse might notice a wound that needs quick attention. 

If progress continues steadily at rehab, the length of stay is usually longer than in acute rehab. The next step for a subacute rehab patient is usually home care, where a patient gets either home therapy and nursing visits or outpatient rehab until his rehab is finished.

Leave a Comment