What’s the Difference Between Inpatient Rehabilitation Therapy and Outpatient Therapy?

Saint Paul Health Center

Rehabilitation therapy is often a necessary part of recovery following an illness, injury, surgery or a hospital stay. Rehab helps patients heal correctly and regain mobility or cognitive function. It can also help with pain management and decrease the risk of reinjury. America’s aging population is creating a growing demand for rehabilitation services for physical, occupational and speech skilled therapy services. Popular options for these services are inpatient rehabilitation therapy clinics and outpatient therapy services with skilled nursing.

To decide which type of therapy clinic is appropriate, it is important to understand the difference.

Inpatient Rehabilitation Therapy

Inpatient rehabilitation therapy is most suitable for patients with extensive rehab needs from a serious injury or an illness such as a stroke. Typically, these patients require multiple types of therapy administered by a multidisciplinary team following a hospitalization. Physical therapy in these cases is an intensive process. Inpatient treatment provides an environment conducive to receiving skilled care and oversight and allows the patient to focus exclusively on treatment. These facilities offer a number of amenities to keep patients comfortable and relaxed in order to speed healing. This level of care may also be provided in a skilled nursing facility.

Inpatient rehab can produce results more quickly because of the focused, intensive care, but that may require a relatively long stay.

Outpatient Rehabilitation Therapy

Outpatient clinics offer similar services but are better suited to patients with less complex injuries or medical histories. Patients who are able to live independently but wish to improve their mobility and quality of life are good candidates for outpatient therapy. Outpatient clinics may also provide pre- or post-surgery rehab, biofeedback, aquatic therapy and other types of therapy that are not offered elsewhere within the community. Patients can do recommended exercises at home in between visits.

Outpatient therapy puts more control over recovery in the hands of the patient, based on how much work you are willing and able to do on your own. Being in your own home, if that is an option, can be more conducive to healing, since you are not away from family and familiar surroundings. However, without the encouragement of a physical therapist, you may not be motivated or comfortable pushing yourself and as a result healing can take longer.

Whether inpatient or outpatient, since you will be spending a fair amount of time there, your personal preference should factor into your decision. When choosing a facility, consider the staff and the services offered. Make sure the clinic you choose has experts in the specialty you need and that you are comfortable with the therapists.

Are you looking for an assisted living facility for yourself or a loved one? Colavria currently manages four senior living communities throughout the Denver Metro Area in Wheat Ridge, Denver, Arvada and Lakewood. Contact one (or more) of our communities to learn more and schedule a tour.

Recent Articles


Sign up to Receive Colavria Hospitality's Articles on Senior Care, Community Management, and More.

Find a Community

Request a Consultation

Careers at Colavria Hospitality