Recovering from a health crisis, one step at a time

September 23, 2021 Swedish Neuroscience Team

One day you are healthy, playing golf, sipping your tea, enjoying life—and in the next moment you find yourself in the hospital. Unfortunately, we all face health challenges throughout our lives. Some illnesses and conditions are easier to treat, while others require longer-term care and intensive therapies.

We never envision ourselves in a hospital, but life is not always predictable. When we face a health crisis, our life can turn upside down. Our physical, mental, and emotional well-being may suffer as well. We rely on our doctors, caregivers, family members, and loved ones for support. And of course, on some level, we must rely on ourselves. Challenging times can test our inner strength, our patience and our perseverance.

When we need assistance to move around, perform basic day-to-day activities or communicate, inpatient rehabilitation is often necessary. The purpose of any rehabilitation program is to help individuals get back as much functional independence as they can to live a full life. Inpatient rehabilitation units are designed to improve an individual’s physical and mental health, along with their cognition and communication skills. Finding the right rehab program may depend on your condition, the level of expertise needed and your expectations. The Acute Rehabilitation Unit (ARU) at Swedish Cherry Hill serves adult patients who require intensive therapy—typically after an inpatient hospital stay for an illness or injury or following surgery.

Out of nearly 5,000 hospitals and more than 1,000 inpatient rehab units nationwide, the ARU at Swedish Cherry Hill ranked in the top 50 in the 2021 U.S. News Best Hospitals for Rehabilitation. Only 50 hospitals make this ranking, which is based on quality of care, interventions, treatments, and patient satisfaction. For example, the Swedish Cherry Hill ARU treats a high volume of stroke patients and scored “excellent” in patient services, including case management.

The ARU at Swedish Cherry Hill is supported by its interdisciplinary team, which includes specially trained nurses, physiatrists (rehab physicians), physical therapists, occupational therapists, dietitians, social workers, and speech-language pathologists. The Swedish ARU is geared to help patients regain as much mobility and independence as possible after a life-changing medical event. Inpatient rehabilitation is often needed for patients who have disabling illnesses or injuries, such as a stroke, spinal cord injury or brain injury, loss of a limb, or deconditioning after a prolonged hospitalization. The approach at the Swedish ARU is highly personalized and tailored to match each patient’s needs, condition and individual progress.

"I frequently tell my patients and their families that it is a privilege and honor for me to be a part of their recovery from a life altering medical event and to see them improve during their inpatient rehab stay and beyond,” says Medical Director of ARU, Inpatient Rehab Services, and Neurological Rehabilitation Medicine Clinic at Swedish, Paul Chuwn Lim, M.D. 

Several factors make the Swedish ARU program unique, including:

Exceptional medical care and intensive therapy

Patients are seen six or seven days a week by a dedicated inpatient physiatrist (rehab physician) who only takes care of patients on the ARU instead of splitting their day in clinic or consulting on other hospitalized patients. As a result, patients receive consistently detailed medical care that provides continuity and oversight of a large interdisciplinary rehab team. Patients also receive three hours of therapy daily, six or seven days a week, by highly specialized physical, occupational and speech therapists. Every rehabilitation center is unique. What makes Swedish’s ARU truly comprehensive is not only the advanced technological innovations, but the human drive and motivation and human connection between our caregivers and our patients. After all, in a world of science, people make the difference.

Personalized treatment planning

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treat a serious medical condition. For example, stroke affects people in different ways, so the treatment itself must be unique to each patient. For these reasons, the ARU at Swedish Cherry Hill has adopted its interdisciplinary approach where the team of caregivers from different disciplines, in partnership with the patient and their family (who are also invited to be active participants on a patient’s path to recovery), create an individual care plan. With every patient there is an evaluation process, which entails assessing their condition, diagnosis, prognosis, recovery goals and rehabilitation treatment plan.

“I am so proud to work with a physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech pathology team who are dedicated to excellent and compassionate care,” says Regional Director of Rehabilitation Services at Swedish, Diana Sonnega, MS, CCC-SLP. “My entire team works tirelessly with patients, families, and friends to achieve their individual goals and act as guides in preparing them for transition back into the community.”

Mental health services

Individuals going through a rehabilitation program are challenged on physical, mental and emotional levels. All these elements play critically important roles during the recovery process. Balance in all areas is necessary for a successful recovery. Depression, stress and anxiety are not uncommon throughout the rehabilitation process. Our caregivers strive to provide compassionate, understanding care that’s personalized to each patient’s unique situation and needs. Psychiatrists and chaplains can also be of assistance during a patient’s rehab stay, providing mental health and counseling to care for the whole person.

Find a doctor

Do you or a family member need rehabilitation services after an illness or injury? Or do you need to learn more about rehabilitation medicine and what’s right for you? To learn more, visit the Swedish Neurological Rehabilitation Medicine Clinic to connect with Drs. Kim Middleton, Paul Chuwn Lim and John Benson, or call us at 206-320-5062. You can reach the Acute Rehabilitation Unit at Swedish Cherry Hill by calling 206-320-2673.

Whether you require an in-person visit or want to consult with a doctor virtually on other health care issues, you have options. Swedish Virtual Care connects you face-to-face with a nurse practitioner who can review your symptoms, provide instruction and follow-up as needed. If you need to find a physician, caregiver, or advanced practitioner, you can use our provider directory.

Additional resources

A new ride for rehabilitation

Signs of a stroke and actions you should take


About the Author

From deep brain stimulation to focused ultrasound to pediatric neurology, The Swedish Neuroscience Team is recognized as national experts to help people address a wide array of neurological conditions. Our goal is to provide useful and helpful advice and tips on non-surgical and surgical options to treat any disease of the mind.

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