What are the Three Goals of Rehabilitation?

Learn about the three main goals of short-term rehabilitation: performance-based, learning-based, and intrinsic-based objectives.

What are the Three Goals of Rehabilitation?

If your medical team has recommended short-term rehabilitation, you may have questions about this type of care, especially if this will be your first experience with it. You may be wondering what you can expect from a rehabilitation program and what goals it can help you achieve. To help answer this question, we'll review the three main goals of short-term rehabilitation. The first goal is performance-based.

This involves setting measurable objectives that give patients some control over their outcomes. For example, if a patient is working on improving their ambulation and strength, they could set a goal to support their grandchild. Performance goals should be challenging and specific to ensure the best results. For instance, a patient could tell themselves they will run a certain number of miles each day and double that amount by the end of summer, with the goal of running a certain number of miles in a certain period of time for the fall.

These goals are great indicators of progress and can give patients a much-needed boost when they start to feel discouraged. The second goal is learning-based. This involves establishing specific outcomes that provide a context for predicting performance. For example, if a patient needs to learn how to use adaptive equipment like a walker, they could set a learning goal to demonstrate proper self-care and management with it.

Dietitians often emphasize learning goals by taking their patients to buy food and teaching them how to maintain their health through nutrition and proper food choices. The third goal is intrinsic-based. This focuses on internal validation rather than external validation. For example, if a patient has had total knee surgery, they could set an intrinsic goal to be able to walk in the park with their partner.

Intrinsic objectives are more valuable to the patient than extrinsic objectives because they focus on personal aspirations rather than insurance company requirements. Performance, learning, and intrinsic objectives are all important goals in short-term rehabilitation programs. They help patients focus on variables under their control, recognize and celebrate incremental improvements, and achieve more positive outcomes. Rehabilitation providers also work to help patients recover and return to their lives in the shortest possible time by creating personalized treatment plans that address their individual therapy and treatment needs.