Making an Informed Choice
At some point in your treatment, your physician, nurse, or managed care provider may suggest that you consider rehabilitation services to tackle the physical, cognitive and emotional challenges of your brain tumor. The brain tumor rehabilitation team will work to create a personalized care plan for you that will include education, treatment and support.
Rehabilitation services can be a critical bridge between treatment and recovery so it is important to select the right one. The first step is to get a written referral from your physician; it is necessary for most insurance carriers and may be required by the rehabilitation facility.
Verify Insurance Coverage
Before choosing a rehabilitation center, make sure your health insurer will provide coverage. Some insurers want their policyholders to consider designated "centers of excellence" and others require certain facilities that are in your network and could lower costs. The most expensive facilities are not always the best. If you are not sure about which centers are covered, request a list of covered facilities from your insurer.
Also, make sure you fully understand what benefits will be covered. Some insurers may limit the number of covered rehabilitation visits. And some services may only be covered if you are a patient in an acute-care hospital, and not at a rehab hospital. Discuss these limitations with your physician or other health care provider to see how you can meet your rehabilitation goals.
Make Sure You Ask Key Questions
You will want to find a rehabilitation center that fits your own financial and health care needs. Contact the center and ask key questions, such as:
- Do you have a brain tumor or brain injury program in place?
- Do you specifically treat brain tumor patients?
- How many brain tumor patients do you treat?
- Can I contact brain tumor patients who have used your program?
- Is your facility accredited by the Joint Commission or the Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities?
Meet the Rehabilitation Team
Once you have chosen a rehabilitation center, it will be time to meet with your rehabilitation team. Typically, it is led a physiatrist, a physician specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation, and should include many different specialists such as physical therapists, speech therapists, occupational therapists and social workers who will provide:
- neuropsychology to help you adjust to your brain tumor
- reentry programs to assist you in returning to home or work
- support services such as chaplains
Each member of the team will evaluate you and contribute to a "baseline" assessment, which defines your current abilities and is used to set new goals for you. You and the team will use these goals to choose rehabilitation activities for you. All this information will become part of your Individualized Written Rehabilitation Plan, one of the documents that will go everywhere with you.
Once you begin rehabilitation, a team member will be assigned to monitor your progress on a regular basis. This person is usually a therapist, case manager or care coordinator at the center. If your rehabilitation plan needs revision, the coordinator may ask the full team to meet with you and discuss possible changes.