• The information below is from the Medical Rehabilitation Education Foundation in Washington, D.C.

    How does medical rehabilitation help people?

    Through medical rehabilitation, people who become disabled as a result of trauma or disease receive help return to the most productive and independent lifestyle possible. In addition to helping people minimize their disability and improve function, medical rehabilitation can reduce future costly medical complications and the need for re-hospitalization.

    Don't people with disabilities go to a nursing home after medical rehabilitation?

    As a result of medical rehabilitation, at least 50,000 to 100,000 people return to their homes each year. These individuals would otherwise require additional care on a long-term basis at considerable expense to government programs as well as to their families. Rehabilitating people so that they can live at home results in a net savings to individuals, insurance companies, and government programs of approximately $500 million to $1 billion annually.

    Isn't it true that most people never return to work after a significant accident or disease?

    As a result of medical rehabilitation, an estimated 350,000 Americans return to work each year. Those individuals produce about $700 million in additional state and federal revenue through income tax payments.

    Medical rehabilitation is expensive. Is it really cost effective?

    By reducing acute care hospital days (length of stay) and re-hospitalizations, medical rehabilitation saves hundreds of millions of dollars per year in medical costs that would otherwise be paid by insurers, Medicare or Medicaid, and individuals. Medical rehabilitation results in an estimated annual savings of $1 to $2 billion for public programs such as workers' compensation, disability insurance, and Medicaid. A study by an insurance company has shown that, with severe brain injury, for every $1 spent on rehabilitation, $23 is saved over the lifetime of the person with the brain injury.

    Who benefits from medical rehabilitation?
    • People with a twist, sprain, or strain of a muscle or joint that does not resolve in a reasonable time.
    • People with a condition that can be helped by better muscle control, such as some types of incontinence in women and chronic pain.
    • People with an injury or medical condition such as head injury, aneurysm, spinal cord injury, stroke, burns, multiple trauma, repetitive motion injury (carpal tunnel syndrome), anoxia (lack of oxygen for some period of time), amputation, broken hip or multiple bone fractures, and hip or knee replacement.
    • People with a disease or chronic condition such as arthritis, cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, Guillain-Barre syndrome, heart disease, lung disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease), and problems related to AIDS or infection with HIV (the virus that causes AIDS).
    • People with a birth defect or inherited disorder such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, hearing problems, speech problems, disorders that affect vision, balance, thinking, etc., and children with developmental delays.
    Who pays for medical rehabilitation?

    Private and group health insurance usually offers coverage of inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services. Health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and preferred provider organizations (PPOs) may cover inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation on a limited basis. Medicaid covers rehabilitation services in some cases. Contact your state Medicaid office for details. Medicare covers some inpatient and outpatient services. Workers' compensation covers rehabilitation services related to work injuries in most states. No-fault auto insurance pays for medical rehabilitation following accidents in some states.

    How do I get medical rehabilitation?

    As with any medical treatment program, the first advice is to check with your doctor. If you think medical rehabilitation can help you or a family member, your doctor will evaluate the condition and assess whether medical rehabilitation is needed.