Rehabilitation and Physiotherapy

Rehabilitation helps you keep, get back or improve abilities needed to carry out your daily life. Rehabilitation can include a mixture of different activities. For example, it might include walking, using weights, doing balance exercises and practising memory skills.

The rehabilitation team

Listed below are rehabilitation health professionals. You may have seen one of these professionals while you were in hospital:


  • helps patients restore their ability to function and be independent
  • helps patients after injuries to the muscles, bones, tissues and nervous system

Occupational therapist

  • helps patients relearn life skills
  • assists with getting back to daily activities and the use of memory
  • helps with return to work

Speech therapist

  • helps patients with problems related to memory, attention and swallowing
  • helps patients learn to speak again, if necessary

Rehabilitation services don't just focus on physical function. Other team members such as social workers and psychologists also offer mental health support.


Physiotherapists work within rehabilitation teams and can also work independently.

They work with patients to optimise physical function. Physiotherapy programmes focus on walking and balance, strength, endurance, pain, dizziness and preventing falls. Physiotherapists can also help with returning to sport.

Physiotherapists will help tailor exercise programmes to assist recovery. Endurance activities such as walking, cycling and strength training can help build muscle strength. Exercise is combined with education. It can help improve your mental wellbeing in the short term.

Physiotherapy is started as early as possible in ICU. Physiotherapy then continues after the patient leaves the hospital. Ongoing physiotherapy helps improve long term physical function.

Finding rehabilitation services

If you are experiencing physical and mental health issues after your ICU stay, you are not alone. Rehabilitation services will be available in your community. Ask your GP to refer you.

Tips for recovery

Your recovery may be a slow process. Here are some suggestions:

  • set daily short-term goals such as walking a few steps further
  • revisit some of the exercises from your hospital physiotherapist
  • aim to complete more of a task without a rest

These are only suggestions. It is also important to recognise if you are pushing yourself too hard. Knowing your limits will also help your recovery.

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