What is Rehabilitation following Major Trauma?

Patient Experience

  • Reference Number: HEY1182/2020
  • Departments: Major Trauma
  • Last Updated: 24 November 2020


This leaflet explains the role of the rehabilitation team and provides you with information about your admission to hospital. If after reading this you have any concerns or require further explanation, please discuss this with a member of the healthcare team.

What is Rehabilitation?

Rehabilitation is a step-by-step process of assessment, treatment and management provided to support you in achieving your maximum potential. This will include physical, cognitive, social and psychological functioning, as well as participation in society and activities you enjoy.

Rehabilitation services aims to increase your independence and functional skills after injury and return you to as much of your previous ability as possible. Where it is not possible for you to return to your previous functional abilities, the rehabilitation process will support you to explore new ways of doing things.

As part of your rehabilitation process, rehabilitation goals will be set following discussions between yourself and your rehabilitation team. Rehabilitation will begin as soon as you are admitted to hospital and will be tailored to your individual needs.

Rehabilitation may include support and guidance with:

  • mental health and emotional difficulties
  • increase movement, endurance and strength
  • learning new ways to look after yourself with an injury or disabilities
  • mobility, using aids or wheelchairs if needed
  • Pain management
  • guidance in returning to work, family activities and leisure
  • arranging home care services, where applicable
  • communication difficulties
  • swallowing difficulties

Where possible you will be discharged straight home from hospital, however this may not always be possible as some patients need more time to recover from their injuries.  If this is the case the team will talk to you about either transferring you back to your local hospital or to a dedicated rehabilitation facility.

The roles of the Multidisciplinary team

Depending on your injury and rehabilitation needs you may not have been seen by all the listed professionals included within the multidisciplinary team. Listed below is a summary of each profession’s role in your rehabilitation.

Occupational Therapists

The role of the occupational therapist includes assessing your cognition and functional ability. Your occupational therapist will focus on daily living skills, which can include washing and dressing, meal preparation, work and leisure. Your therapist will assess your environment and provide therapy programs, adaptations or aids which may increase your independence.

Speech and Language Therapists

The speech and language therapists will assess and manage your communication difficulties. In addition, they will assess, provide advice and treat any difficulties with swallowing. Speech and Language Therapists also contribute to tracheostomy weaning plans.

Clinical Psychologists

The clinical psychologists may see you to assess your emotional and psychological needs, to offer you support during your admission and sign post you to services that can support you following discharge.  The clinical psychologists may also be involved in the assessment and rehabilitation of patients who have experienced emotional, behavioural or cognitive difficulties as a result of brain injury due to trauma.


The Dietitian will assess your nutritional needs and provide advice on the most appropriate route of nutrition support; this may include helping you to make suitable food choices, prescription of nutritional drinks or tailored feeding regimes for enteral tube feeds or intravenous nutrition.

Rehabilitation Medicine Doctors

These doctors provide support to both the medical team directly involved in your day to day care and also the rehabilitation team looking after you. They provide assessment, treatment and guidance in the management of patients with more complex rehabilitation needs, including the assessment and management if you need transfer to specialist rehabilitation wards or ongoing follow up with the rehabilitation medicine team.

Rehabilitation Coordinators

These are team members who will help to ensure that your rehabilitation needs can be met at the point of discharge. They will signpost your treating teams to the appropriate services both in hospital and also in the community. If you have more complex rehabilitation needs, they will be involved in planning where and how this will be carried out.

Rehabilitation Prescription

As your discharge home approaches, the multidisciplinary team will work with you to establish your rehabilitation goals and how they can be met after discharge.

If, at the point of discharge from the hospital, you have any ongoing rehabilitation needs, you will be given a document called a Rehabilitation Prescription. This will include a brief description of your injuries and how they are currently being managed. The Rehabilitation Prescription will also include an explanation of your rehabilitation needs and the services you are being referred to.

A copy of the prescription will also be forwarded to your doctor.

General Advice and Consent

Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet, but remember that this is only a starting point for discussion with the healthcare team.

Consent to treatment

Before any doctor, nurse or therapist examines or treats you, they must seek your consent or permission. In order to make a decision, you need to have information from health professionals about the treatment or investigation which is being offered to you. You should always ask them more questions if you do not understand or if you want more information.

The information you receive should be about your condition, the alternatives available to you, and whether it carries risks as well as the benefits. What is important is that your consent is genuine or valid. That means:

  • you must be able to give your consent
  • you must be given enough information to enable you to make a decision
  • you must be acting under your own free will and not under the strong influence of another person

Information about you

We collect and use your information to provide you with care and treatment. As part of your care, information about you will be shared between members of a healthcare team, some of whom you may not meet. Your information may also be used to help train staff, to check the quality of our care, to manage and plan the health service, and to help with research. Wherever possible we use anonymous data.

We may pass on relevant information to other health organisations that provide you with care. All information is treated as strictly confidential and is not given to anyone who does not need it. If you have any concerns please ask your doctor, or the person caring for you.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 we are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of any information we hold about you. For further information visit the following page: Confidential Information about You.

If you or your carer needs information about your health and wellbeing and about your care and treatment in a different format, such as large print, braille or audio, due to disability, impairment or sensory loss, please advise a member of staff and this can be arranged.

QR code to open leaflet