How to Choose a Brain Injury Rehabilitation Program

Choosing a rehabilitation facility for brain injury is one of the most important decisions you will have to make in the near future. It is very important to be confident about the quality of care you or a loved one will receive when entering a rehabilitation program.

Although the final decision will ultimately depend upon individual circumstances such as insurance and location, all rehabilitation programs have features that can be evaluated, regardless of your prior knowledge of brain injury rehabilitation or catastrophic injury.

What Questions Should I Ask When Choosing a Brain Injury Rehabilitation Program?

Shepherd Center provides a list of questions you may want to ask as you research programs. We’ve provided a complete PDF list of critical questions that can be downloaded here, or read at the bottom of the page. In general, it is best to compare at least three rehabilitation programs to make an informed decision on the best facility for your loved one.

Full List of Questions

General Questions:

  1. How many patients are admitted to the acquired brain injury rehabilitation program each year?
  2. How many patients has the facility treated with injuries similar to yours?
  3. What is the average age of patients in the acquired brain injury unit?
  4. Are there patients in the program of the same age and sex as the patient considering admission?
  5. Does the hospital specialize in acquired brain injury rehabilitation services or is it just one of the many medical services offered?
  6. Is the facility equipped to manage life-threatening emergencies on-site?
  7. Are patients able to begin the rehabilitation process on the acquired brain injury unit even if they have significant medical problems?
  8. Are patients transferred to another floor, unit or hospital if new medical problems arise?
  9. Does the facility offer services for every stage of recovery, including intensive care, inpatient rehabilitation and outpatient services?
  10. Does your facility offer an inpatient program for those in a coma at a minimally-consciousness state?
  11. How often and for how long each day do patients get treatment by specialists such as physical and speech therapists? (Treatment should be no less than three hours per day.)
  12. Are activities planned for patients on weekends and evenings?
  13. Does your facility have full-time clinical educators for staff development and training to ensure that all faculty and staff are practicing the latest therapeutic interventions?

Counseling Services:

  1. What types of coping and support services are available – peer support, individual and group therapy, psychotherapy, neuropsychology, family counseling, vocational counseling and substance abuse counseling?

Family Members:

  1. Are family members encouraged to participate in rehabilitation?
  2. To what extent?
  3. Does your facility have a family education program to prepare me for future caregiving responsibilities?
  4. What type of support do you offer after we return home?
  5. Are there free or low-cost living arrangements for family members participating in training?

Outcomes:

  1. What percent of patients return to home or community rather than long-term care facilities?
  2. How does that compare to other treatment centers?
  3. Rehabilitation hospitals measure patient results in terms of “functional improvement.” What is the facility’s average functional improvement measure (FIM) score and FIM change for patients with acquired brain injuries?
  4. What is the facility’s average length of stay for patients with injuries similar to yours?

Onsite Review:

  1. Were staff members helpful and friendly when information was requested?
  2. Were you offered an opportunity to tour the facility?
  3. What were your impressions of the overall atmosphere?
  4. Did you have the opportunity to speak with people currently participating in the program?
  5. Were they satisfied with their rehabilitation programs?