Physical therapy in Pensacola, Florida

West Florida Healthcare provides West Florida Rehabilitation Institute, the Gulf Coast’s most comprehensive physical rehabilitation hospital. West Florida Rehabilitation Institute offers an extensive array of inpatient and outpatient rehabilitative services for individuals 18 years and older.

The program's goal is to return the patient to maximum independence under the guidance of a team of physicians and professional staff.

For more information on West Florida Rehabilitation Institute, please call (850) 494-6100.

West Florida Rehabilitation Institute

Founded in 1977, West Florida Rehabilitation Institute has served the community for over 40 years. We help patients who have experienced brain injuries, strokes, spinal cord injuries, orthopedic conditions and general debility recover and regain strength.

Our rehabilitation therapists create individualized plans for patients that take into account their medical acuity and stability, behavioral status and cultural preferences.

Our recovery team

While you are a patient at West Florida Rehabilitation Institute, you will have a rehabilitation team assigned to you. The team will work with you and your family to help you make the most of your abilities. Based on your needs, your team may consist of the following professionals:

  • Case managers
  • Clinical rehab psychologists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Nurses with training and certification in rehabilitation nursing (CRRN)
  • Patient care technicians
  • Physiatrists
  • Physical therapists
  • Recreational therapists
  • Registered dietitians
  • Respiratory therapists
  • Speech/language pathologists

Goals of rehabilitation therapy

Treatment plans are individualized with your needs, goals and preferences in mind. You will be attending a minimum of three hours of therapy, at least five days per week. Our team strives to help you achieve the following:

  • Assisting with participation in recreational activities
  • Improving communication, problem solving, memory and social interaction
  • Incorporating wellness and prevention in life choices
  • Learning about the impairment and adjusting to any activity limitations
  • Regaining independence in functional activities, such as self-care and mobility
  • Returning to productive roles at home, workplace, school and in the community
  • Serving as a resource in the community for persons with physical rehabilitation needs and caregivers
  • Training in use of adaptive equipment to assist in becoming more functionally independent
  • Transitioning to home or another level of care

Rehabilitation services

We offer several different forms of therapy to get you back to living an independent life. Our therapists work with you to set goals and individualize your rehab plan so you have effective, quality care.

Physical therapy (PT)

PT focuses on training and movement to assist with restoration of function and independence:

  • Balance and neuromuscular re-education
  • Functional mobility training
  • Gait/assistive device training
  • Pain management
  • Seating/positioning
  • Therapeutic exercise to improve strength and range of motion
  • Tone management

Occupational therapy (OT)

OT works on returning you to daily life through occupation. An occupation is anything that people do during the course of everyday life. This will include the physical and cognitive skills to engage in activities in your environment and resume your life roles, which include self-care, productivity and leisure.

To help you return to everyday life, occupational therapists focus on:

  • Adaptive equipment use
  • Low-vision accommodations
  • Neuromuscular recovery
  • Positioning
  • Range of motion
  • Sensation
  • Splinting
  • Strengthening
  • Tone management
  • Visual perceptual issues

Speech language pathology (SLP or ST)

Speech language pathologists assess and treat conditions affecting swallowing, speech and communication. They help patients with:

  • Alternative communication methods
  • Clarity of speech
  • Cognitive issues
  • Swallowing assessment and intervention
  • Understanding and using language skills

Aquatic rehabilitation

The West Florida Aquatic Program offers physical therapy in a warm water setting for patients with conditions such as:

  • Arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Orthopedic injury
  • Neurological disease
  • Spinal injury
  • Stroke

The therapist will perform a comprehensive evaluation and design a treatment plan depending on the patient's needs. This includes individualized exercises and instruction in a pool program and/or progression to land-based physical therapy.

Individuals with open wounds, continence concerns or fear of the water would not be appropriate for the aquatic program.

What to expect from aquatic rehab

Our experienced staff uses the unique properties of warm water to provide physical therapy in a safe, less painful environment. The low impact, aquatic-based exercise program offers many benefits to recovering patients. The buoyancy effect of water lessens the stress of weight-bearing joints, such as the hips and knees, allowing greater ease of movement with less pain.

The resistive properties of water allow for a variety of strengthening, balance and coordination techniques to be performed. The patient may continue the program by joining a pool maintenance class upon completion of the aquatic physical therapy.

A referral from a Florida licensed physician, nurse practitioner or physician's assistant is required.

Benefits of warm water exercise

Therapeutic benefits of aquatic therapy include:

  • Decreases muscle spasticity
  • Improves body awareness, balance and trunk stability
  • Improves patient morale and confidence
  • Improves respiratory muscles
  • Increases ease of joint movement
  • Increases muscular strength and endurance in cases of excessive weakness
  • Increases peripheral circulation
  • Promotes muscular relaxation
  • Reduces pain sensitivity

Brain injury rehabilitation

West Florida Rehabilitation Institute offers a comprehensive inpatient program for the treatment of adults who have experienced a brain injury. A brain injury can occur from a blow to the head, a fall, a tumor or an injury from lack of oxygen to the brain.

Our team of dedicated professionals provide a program that supports the unique needs and goals of each patient following their injury.

Several benefits of choosing our program include:

  • We are able to provide a continuum of rehabilitation at every step of recovery, including inpatient and outpatient programs.
  • We have 24/7 camera-monitored rooms for the safety of our patients.
  • We use advanced equipment to help our patients improve their abilities and regain independence.
  • West Florida Rehabilitation Institute is certified in stroke rehabilitation by The Joint Commission.

The brain injury program offers:

  • Brain injury support group
  • Community reorientation therapy
  • Community skills outings
  • Controlled stimulation treatment gym
  • Dressing/feeding program
  • Equipment recommendations
  • Family training/education
  • Home accessibility evaluation
  • Intensive, one-on-one treatment provided by physical, occupational and speech therapists
  • Medical consultants
  • Neuropsychologist available for consults
  • Outpatient driver evaluation/program
  • Recreational therapy
  • State-of-the-art equipment supported by evidence-based research

Spinal cord injury rehabilitation

Spinal cord injuries can result from a variety of accidents, from falls to motor vehicle accidents. Rehabilitation of the spine requires multidisciplinary expertise—and that's exactly what you'll find at West Florida Rehabilitation Institute.

Our rehabilitation program and our orthopedics program come together to provide comprehensive inpatient care to help patients recover from spinal cord injuries. Our goal is to help each patient restore their mobility and independence and return to their everyday activities.

Swallowing therapy

Dysphagia, or difficulty with swallowing, is a medical disorder that impacts up to 15 million Americans.

Dysphagia can occur as a result of conditions such as stroke, head and neck cancer, neuromuscular conditions like Parkinson's disease or deconditioning as a result of the aging process.

If one or more of the following symptoms of dysphagia is present, you or your loved one may be a candidate for dysphagia therapy:

  • Coughing or throat clearing during or after eating
  • Difficulty completing a meal
  • Difficulty initiating a swallow
  • Feeling of food being stuck in throat
  • Recurring chest infections
  • Wet voice quality

All of our speech therapists are licensed, certified healthcare professionals with a master's degree in speech pathology.

Speech language pathology services

We provide an array of evaluations including:

  • Education on safe swallow and prevention of aspiration pneumonia
  • Oral motor examination and clinical dysphagia evaluation
  • Recommendations for further services

We also offer videofluroscopic swallow (modified barium swallow) studies, which:

  • Allow for determination of appropriate diet and further treatment recommendations
  • Are conducted by speech language pathologists in conjunction with radiologists
  • Provide X-ray video of swallow to identify specific impairments with swallowing mechanism and determine presence of aspiration

Our swallow therapy services include comprehensive treatment, such as:

  • Identification of safest food and liquid consistencies
  • Identification of safe swallowing protocol to reduce risk of aspiration pneumonia
  • Individualized swallowing exercise program
  • Ongoing patient/caregiver education and support
  • Neuromuscular electrical stimulation treatment (as needed)
  • Stimulation treatment modality as appropriate

Occupational Therapy Driving Program

The Occupational Therapy Driving Program specializes in assessing an individual's potential to drive safely and competently following an injury, acute illness or progressive disease. The program also provides training in the use of adaptive devices as needed. We offer pre-driving and behind-the-wheel evaluations.

A pre-driving evaluation includes:

  • Cognitive and perceptual skills
  • Driving history
  • Functional mobility
  • General history
  • Interview
  • Medical history
  • Reaction time testing
  • Strength/dexterity assessment
  • Visual screening

A behind-the-wheel evaluation includes:

  • Assessing for adaptive equipment
  • Controlling vehicle speed and placement
  • Driver training in the use of adaptive devices
  • Following directions
  • Getting in and out of the vehicle
  • Using judgment in traffic situations

Based on your behind-the-wheel evaluation, we may provide an adaptive device prescription, a consultation for local adaptive equipment providers and recommendations for additional diagnostic and rehabilitative services.

Candidates for our driving program

Candidates must hold a valid license or temporary permit and be seizure-free for a minimum of six months. A referral from a Florida licensed physician, nurse practitioner or physician's assistant is required.

Appropriate candidates for referral include, but are not limited to, people who demonstrate any of the following.

Physical impairments:

  • Balance/trunk stability deficits
  • Coordination deficits
  • Muscle weakness
  • Limitations in range of motion
  • Loss of arm/leg function

Cognitive/perceptual impairments involving:

  • Judgment
  • Memory
  • Organizational skills
  • Problem solving

Visual impairments relative to driving:

  • Depth perception
  • Double vision
  • Visual fields

Osteoporosis care

Osteoporosis is characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue, which results in weak bones that are prone to fractures.

West Florida Rehabilitation Institute and our women's care services offer a comprehensive program for the prevention and management of osteoporosis, including:

  • Establishing a specific exercise program: Site-specific exercises directly target the prime areas of restriction and weakness and increase the bones' density.
  • Implementing a walking program: Walking is a weight-bearing exercise that helps combat osteoporosis.
  • Improving balance: Balance training will reduce the risk of falling.
  • Promoting good body alignment: Four methods are taught to attain good postural habits when you walk, stand and sit.
  • Teaching good body mechanics during activities of daily living: Good body mechanics help prevent fractures, reduce your risk of a fall and decrease back pain.
  • Treating fractures: Therapeutic activities are incorporated to help manage pain and improve mobility and function.

A referral from a Florida licensed physician, nurse practitioner or physician's assistant is required for admission into the program.

Osteoporosis risk factors

You may be at increased risk for developing osteoporosis if any of the following factors apply to you:

  • Caucasian or Asian
  • Delayed puberty
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • High alcohol intake
  • High protein diet
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Low calcium diet
  • Low testosterone (men)
  • Personal history of eating disorders
  • Post-menopausal
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Small boned
  • Smoking
  • Stress

The management of osteoporosis is critical to a person's health and quality of life. Our osteoporosis program is designed to help support and manage the needs of people with osteoporosis. If you feel you are at risk of having this disease, please contact your physician.

Vestibular rehabilitation

Dizziness is a leading reason people 65 years old and older seek medical attention. Although aging is not a cause of dizziness, geriatric patients develop dizziness for several reasons, including degeneration of the otolithic membrane, decompensation of old vestibular deficits, ototoxic drugs and multisensory and musculoskeletal changes.

The Vestibular Rehabilitation Program provides treatment for a variety of vestibular deficits and symptoms. The vestibular deficits can be extremely debilitating by producing symptoms such as dizziness, vertigo, postural instability and gait disturbances. These symptoms can result in a sedentary lifestyle and physical deconditioning.

Fall prevention is an important component of this program. Most falls happen in the home and result in an injury having a detrimental impact on the individual's health and well-being.

Fall prevention techniques may include:

  • Creating and/or maintaining a well-lit and clutter-free environment
  • Installing and using handrails for stairs and bathrooms
  • Learning which medications or drug interactions are at risk for causing falls
  • Maintaining flexibility and strength during the aging process
  • Use of a fall alert system if you live alone
  • Use of a night light or remote lamp switch for getting up in the dark

A referral from a Florida licensed physician, nurse practitioner or physician's assistant is required.

Vestibular conditions we treat

West Florida Rehabilitation Institute will provide a comprehensive evaluation by a qualified physical therapist to develop individualized treatment programs for a variety of diagnoses, including:

  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo
  • Bilateral vestibular loss
  • Central vestibular disequilibrium
  • Labyrinthitis
  • Multi-factorial disequilibrium
  • Perilymphatic fistula
  • Unilateral vestibular hypofunction
  • Vestibular neuritis

Vestibular treatments

  • Brandt-Daroff exercises
  • Exercises to promote vestibular compensation or adaptation
  • Epley maneuver
  • Fall prevention
  • Habituation training
  • Semont maneuver

Acute inpatient rehabilitation

West Florida Rehabilitation Institute offers inpatient rehabilitative services for patients 18 years and older with impairments resulting in activity limitations.

Our facility is licensed by the Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitation Services as the only Comprehensive Medical Rehabilitation Hospital in the Pensacola area. We are also recognized by CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) International as a rehabilitation expert in the region.

The program focuses on returning the person to maximum independence under the guidance of a team of physicians and professional staff. Patient treatment plans are individualized with your needs and preferences in mind to include medical acuity and stability, behavioral status and cultural preferences.

Recreational therapy

Recreational therapy, or therapeutic recreation, includes educating you and your family on the importance of continuing leisure interests after discharge. During your inpatient stay, the recreational therapist will provide several services, including:

  • Adaptive sports/recreation
  • Aquatic therapy
  • Assistance with peer mentors
  • Assistance with community resources
  • Community reintegration therapy
  • Leisure skill building and education
  • Practice of the skills you learn from other therapists to translate to real life settings

Rehabilitation psychology

We understand that recovering from an illness or injury can be emotionally difficult for a patient. That is why we connect our patients to a rehabilitation psychologist.

The rehabilitation psychologist will assist the patient and their family during the inpatient stay with adjustments to medical conditions. They will provide education related to emotional, physical, cognitive and behavioral effects of injury/illness.

Candidates for inpatient rehabilitation

Candidates with a debilitating diagnosis of one or more of the following conditions are considered for our acute inpatient rehab program:

  • Amputations
  • Arthritis, severe rheumatoid arthritis and severe osteoarthritis
  • Bilateral knee or hip joint surgery
  • Brain injury
  • Burns
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Congenital deformity
  • Heart failure
  • Hip fractures
  • Knee and hip joint replacements
  • Major multiple trauma
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Myasthenia gravis, or other motor neuron type diseases
  • Neurological disorders
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Polyneuropathy
  • Renal failure (dialysis)
  • Septicemia
  • Single joints, patient body mass index (BMI) of at least 50 or patient is 85 years old or older
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Strokes
If you are unsure whether you meet criteria for acute inpatient rehabilitation, please call (850) 494-6100 for an evaluation.

If you have one or more of these conditions, ask yourself these questions:

  • Has there been a decline from your original level of mobility or activities of daily living?
  • Would you be interested in a daily rehab program to return to your normal level of activity?
  • Is there still a need for wound care, respiratory care, percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tube education, diabetic and family training?

Inpatient rehabilitation insurance coverage

Our business office will verify insurance coverage for rehabilitation. The patient or family may need to be contacted during this process. If there are questions, the liaison nurse will contact you.

Acute inpatient rehabilitation vs. long-term acute care facility

Acute inpatient rehabilitation offers some of the same services as a long-term acute care (LTAC) facility, for example:

  • 24-hour radiology and laboratory services
  • 24-hour respiratory therapy
  • Clinical dietitian
  • Dialysis (with approval)
  • Intravenous (IV) therapy
  • Occupational, physical and speech therapy
  • Percutaneous endoscopic gastronomy (PEG) tube care/education
  • Tracheostomy care
  • Wound care

Listed below are additional services acute inpatient rehab offers that an LTAC facility does not routinely provide:

  • 24-hour registered nursing staff
  • A minimum of three hours of therapy daily, which results in less time in the hospital
  • Assessment from a rehabilitation physician five times a week
  • Diabetic education to prepare for discharge
  • Extensive family training/caregiver training
  • Family members can stay with you in select cases
  • Home evaluations as needed
  • Length of hospital stay based on your functional improvement
  • On-site radiology and laboratory
  • No three-day acute care admission prior to hospitalization required
  • Physicians specializing in physical rehabilitation medicine
  • Pool therapy
  • Prosthetic and orthotic services
  • Psychologist on-site
  • Recreational therapy
  • Rehabilitation-focused care
  • Short-term intensive rehabilitation
  • Specialized equipment specific to your diagnosis
  • Specialized, trained rehabilitation nursing staff and clinicians
  • Transition planning for safe discharge
  • Weekly interdisciplinary team meetings
  • Wheelchair Seating Clinic

Wheelchair Seating Clinic

Selecting and purchasing a wheelchair has always been an important decision for people with physical disabilities. The right wheelchair must address comfort, proper fit, lifestyle, future mobility goals and financial considerations.

West Florida Rehabilitation Institute offers a Wheelchair Seating Clinic open to anyone needing a wheelchair. This includes people who want to upgrade their current wheelchair, people with a recent diagnosis who may benefit from an equipment consultation and people with progressive disabilities who feel they may need improved adaptive equipment.

The individual may be assessed by a multidisciplinary team to determine his/her needs and preferences.

A referral from a Florida licensed physician, nurse practitioner or physician's assistant is required.

Wheelchair Seating Clinic services

As a hospital specializing in physical rehabilitation, we offer several unique advantages to our individuals, which include:

  • Assessment by a physical therapist specializing in wheelchair seating and evaluation of the user's lifestyle requirements and functional abilities
  • Equipment prescriptions and letters of medical necessity are provided by the physical therapist to the referring physician
  • Local vendors attend and provide equipment and information on availability and cost of specific wheelchairs

The individual is responsible for choosing an assistive technology professional (ATP) vendor who will order the prescribed wheelchair. If the individual has no preferences, then an ATP vendor will be chosen on a rotational basis. When the wheelchair arrives, a free follow-up visit is encouraged to ensure proper fit and adjustment.