An introduction to Residential Rehabilitation

An introduction to Residential Rehabilitation


Posted by: Beth Langley (Physiotherapist at Dorset Orthopaedic, Midlands Clinic)

Residential Rehabilitation is an accelerated physiotherapy programme which takes place for up to 5 consecutive days at a time, on a one to one basis. The origins of our programme can be found in the state-of-the-art rehabilitation services provided by elite military institutions like Headley Court, where an interdisciplinary team focus on returning the individual to optimal levels of health and fitness after a catastrophic injury. This ‘Gold Standard’ is what we strive for with every patient at Dorset Orthopaedic.

Historically, people would be given a prosthesis and receive physio for only one or two hours a week, so the residential programme significantly boosts mobility and confidence in a very short space of time compared to more traditional options.  The person will be getting rehabilitation in the clinic and outside during their time with us, and they may also be having limb fittings with our team of clinicians.

When people first join us on the Residential Rehabilitation programme, they sometimes look a little bit unsure as they have no idea what to expect. I normally tell them that they can expect 5 nights of great sleep because they’ll need a lot of rest after working hard all day!  The week can vary largely depending on the individual’s ability and depending on whether they’re also getting a prosthetic limb fitted during their stay. We start with assessments, wanting to know everything about the person’s history, current status and their hopes for their future which then leads us to build up a week of rehab designed specifically for that person.

The week would normally entail activities like gait re-education; learning how to use the prosthesis on different terrain, slopes, stairs and without walking aids. We also provide hydrotherapy where we go to a local pool with accessible facilities to do deep water jogging and water based exercises. We use complex electrical stimulation to switch on muscles that haven’t been used in a while and use massage, foam rolling and stretching to maximise the movement of muscles and joints, plus reduce any aches and pains. Another key part is improving cardiovascular fitness, along with strength and balance, through exercise. It’s also really important to take the rehabilitation into the wider world, for example by going to a local park or taking people out food shopping to practice pushing a trolley. We want to give people the tools to continue their hard work in everyday life, so we provide them with a home exercise programme to take away.

At the end of their week, we expect that the person will leave us having improved many of the areas they had been hoping to work on. A lot can be achieved in a week and the patients who we welcome for Residential Rehabilitation are given confidence and a sense of determination to continue to conquer their own challenges.

Key Points

  • Early intervention can help the patient return as near as possible to their pre-amputation level of independence, minimising the risk of contractures (limitations to the range of motion) in the joints and helping restore confidence following the life changing event that they have gone through.
  • Each course is tailor-made to an individual to help them achieve the most out of their prosthesis. This can either be from the beginning of their prosthetic journey or at any point during a patient’s life.
  • Other programmes can be formulated to increase strength, endurance, improve stability, confidence or help patients to overcome bad habits that they may have adopted over time.

Case study

More than three years ago, Mr A was involved in a serious road traffic accident that caused life-changing injuries including the amputation of his right leg. Whilst he may never fully resume the lifestyle he enjoyed before the crash, he has received state of the art prosthetics and four separate weeks of Residential Rehabilitation to help him meet his goals of walking, driving and travelling independently.

His rehabilitation concentrated on improving his core stability and strength, improving his range of movement and strengthening his left leg, as well as breaking down scar tissue. He also benefitted from hydrotherapy, massage, Functional Electrical Stimulation and gait training on his prosthesis.

“It was fantastic,” says Mr A. “Following my accident, I hadn’t walked for 30 months but at the end of my first day of rehab, Beth helped me to find the strength to get up and walk a few steps. She’s an absolute star.”

About Beth

A graduate of Keele University, Beth Langley started her career as a sports physiotherapist, before specialising in amputee physio in 2015. Placing a strong emphasis on continued learning, Beth is currently working on her master’s degree in Neuromusculoskeletal Healthcare and enjoys applying the knowledge she gains both through academia as well as hands-on experience to help her patients succeed.

To learn more about Dorset Orthopaedic and the services they offer, click here.

Click here to read Dorset Orthopaedic on innovation in prosthetics.

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