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Family and friends are a good natural remedy for rehab

Harold Mandel's picture
Caring support

Strong social support is associated with shorter stays in inpatient rehabilitation after being hospitalized.


Recovery in inpatient rehabilitation can be a very stressful time for patients. Support from family and friends can help with this process.

The best medicine is often care of family and friends

The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston reports there are shorter stays in inpatient rehabilitation after a patient is hospitalized when there is strong social support. The care of family and friends can actually turn out to be the best medicine.

Researchers at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have shown that patients who have strong social support from their family and friends often find themselves not spending as much time in an inpatient rehabilitation facility. Lead author Zakkoyya Lewis, who is a doctoral student in UTMB’s department of rehabilitation sciences, says it takes patients a longer time to return home to the community when they don't get social support of family and friends.

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Length is time spent in rehab is impacted by social support

Lewis says it appears there is better recovery and a better quality of life for patients when there is support from loved ones. He says this is one of the first studies which has looked at how there is an impact on how long patients must spend in a rehab facility associated with the amount of social support they receive.

Patients are often sent to an inpatient rehabilitation facility prior to returning home after many injuries, major surgery or after having a stroke. Depending on the health situation Medicare agrees to pay for a certain number of days for patients to remain in a rehabilitation facility. There is therefore a financial incentive facilities to discharge a patient earlier than may have initially been projected. However there has not been very much information available dealing with variables associated with a patients’ home life or support system which can have an impact on anticipated lengths of stay.

Patients with little social support require extra time in rehab

The researchers decided to compare the actual amount of time that patients covered by Medicare would need to spend in rehab versus the actual length of their stay at the facility. Social support was also analyzed from the information which was provided by the patients. It was determined in the study that how long patients have to spend in rehab is influenced by strong social support. In comparison with patients who have strong support from their family or friends, those patients who had little social support were observed to more likely require extra time in rehab than was predicted by Medicare.

This study has been published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Researchers have determined that the degree of social support a patient has can greatly influence experiences and outcomes with inpatient rehabilitation. It seems that family and friends can really serve as a good natural remedy to help patients in rehab recover.