Is a physical therapist allowed to stop physical therapy on someone who cannot follow directions because of their dementia?

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My mom is in a Rehab facility recovering from neck surgery. She was getting PT, however the PT therapist contacted my sister, and said they were stopping because she was not able to follow instruction, because of her dementia. Have you ever heard of such?

Answers 1 to 10 of 20
Rehabs call it something like "failure to cooperate." It is mostly because of behavioral issues. If your mother is not being belligerant, violent, or purposely refusing, then there is no reason why they cannot provide a staff member, who works with dementia patients, to work with her and the PT to help "translate."
Every patient in a rehab has a care management "team." There is a leader of the team. Contact him or her. Let them know that your mother is there to get better and part of getting better is PT. I cannot believe that this is the first dementia patient they have worked with.
When my Mom was in rehab, her doctor really wanted her to work on swallowing issues. The therapist saw Mom for a few minutes and said that she "couldn't do anything for her." I called the team leader who had her come back, but she was still a jerk to my Mom. So I asked for a new therapist.
The people who work at these places cannot simply "cherry-pick" who they want to work with.
I would get to the bottom of it by going to the top.
good luck.
Lilliputa: your words rang VERY true with me. The therapists in a rehab center should be able to 'handle' dementia patients as well as they would handle a stroke victim!! I love your statement: Get to the bottom of it, by going to the top!

Bev45: Don't allow 'bully tactics' from ANY staff member if your mother is not getting the care/treatment she needs. See to it that ALL of the necessary personnel are involved in your discussion. Insist on a 'care management meeting' immediately!

Our involvement in their care cannot be passive. We must take an ACTIVE role in their care!

God Bless.
Hi Bev,

If the therapist finds there is not enough carryover of instruction, then yes, they can discharge due to lack of rehab potential.

The Team
In my state Medicare PT can be stoped for many reasons one of which is the pt. has reached a place where they can not do any better and not being able to follow instructions is another reason one of the N.H. did really do everything they could and did give the residents lots of chances before PT was stopped
Top Answer
I am an Occupational therapist and very capable to answer this question. There is a defined level of participation and progress that Medicare,Insurance and Medicaid require. That trickles down to PROGRESS! A pt. receives services when there is a defined goal or objective to meet AND the pt.can demonstrate ability to participate. That being said, when a pt. has made progress , then they tend to remain at a certain level of activity or ability to perform/walk a certain distance etc Then therapy is provided to teach a caregiver or family how to 'maintain' the pt. at that level, supervise exericise and so forth as THERAPY IS NOT APPROPRIATE TO MAINTAIN FUNCTION;IT IS DESIGNED TO ATTAIN A NEW LEVEL OF FUNCTION.
When medicare or medicaide will no longer pay for the services the nursing home or rehab or home care can no longer offer these because they will not get paid. Most nursing homes do not have staff available to assist residents with PT -but you can have PT teach you some things to do yourself for example standing up from a chair that you can help them with when you visit and can encourge excercise when visiting them that will help to keep them mobile longer.
It is important to note that a therapist can always discharge a patient if they feel progress is not/cannot be made. That can be a necessary decision made on the patients' behalf. If the therapist cannot convince the patient to follow the guidelines for rehab they set, then the patient may injure themselves, or more likely, simply will not improve.

As riley0213 correctly pointed out, Medicare insists on progress. They are not interested in maintenance. My recommendation is to ask another therapy practice in the area if they can try to treat your mother. At the very least, ask if they can evaluate her condition. If she does need rehab (which I'm sure she does), then it's worth trying to find another therapist that can work with her.
As of Jan 2014 Medicare has clarified that Lack of progress is not an acceptable reason for stopping services to patient's--for more information see the Center for Medicare Advocacy or CMS web cite for more detail.
PT indicated she could not work with my mom because she wasn't familiar with her case. I told the very least could she work with her on sitting up. Her response was "they were short staffed for the day." Mom got no PT yesterday and most likely will not today. Mom has been here less than a week but as a family we would like to have her transferred to a better skilled nursing facility. Is that within our right and how do we go about it?
sorry....that last response was suppose to be a question

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