Rehabilitation helps you keep, get back or improve abilities for daily life. Rehabilitation can include a mixture of different activities. For example, it might include using weights, doing balancing exercises and practising memory skills.

Rehabilitation team

Listed below are rehabilitation team 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

Physiotherapists help create programmes that may focus on walking, balance, strength and endurance. They can also help with strategies to prevent pain, dizziness and falls. Physiotherapists can also help with returning to sport.

Physiotherapists will help tailor an exercise programme for you. They may include endurance activities such as walking, cycling and strength training to help build muscle strength. Exercise is combined with education and promoting mental well-being.

Physiotherapy is started as early as possible while you are on ICU. It continues after you leave hospital. Ongoing physiotherapy helps improve long term physical function.

Occupational therapist

  • helps patients relearn life skills
  • assists with getting back to daily activities
  • assists with memory problems
  • helps with return to work

Speech therapist

  • helps patients with problems related to memory and attention
  • helps patients with eating 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 offer mental health support.

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.

Where to go for rehabilitation

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.

Related topics

This topic was reviewed by an intensive care medicine specialist in July 2022.

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