Habilitation Services

What Are Habilitation Services?

Habilitation Services are healthcare services that help patients learn, or improve on their functional activities of daily living. The three main areas that are addressed on this type of service is mobility, communication, and activities of daily living. For example, a child may avail of therapy services to address problems in walking, or learning to talk as a toddler. Some of the habilitative services include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech-language therapy, as well as other services for people with exceptional needs both in inpatient and outpatient status.

A patient is recommended habilitative sessions through the prescription of a developmental pediatrician, neurologist, or psychiatrist. The doctor will recommend the frequency and type of habilitation, and how long will the patient have to undergo the therapy services. They may also require changes in the person's lifestyle such as the use of an assistive device, changing educational settings, or avail services of other professionals to help in the habilitation process.

Some professionals that can help habilitative professionals are orthopedists, reading specialists, special education teachers, nutritionists, and other doctors. Habilitation is collaborative in nature and would often require the cooperation of all professionals involved in the holistic care of the patient.

When a patient undergoes habilitative services, they are given an assessment of their baseline skills according to the therapists. Their baseline skills will determine the goals that are needed to be addressed during therapy and this will be done in a period of time over weekly sessions. The progress will be monitored as the child undergoes the sessions regularly.

Who Would Need Habilitation Services?

Patients who need this type of services are:

  • Children with physical disabilities - Children who may suffer from physical conditions that affect their mobility such as cerebral palsy, down syndrome, congenital malformations, etc.
  • Children with cognitive problems - Some children have exceptional needs to perform daily tasks may be in need of habilitation services. Such are children with Autism, genetic problems, or mental disabilities.
  • Children with communicative problems - Some children may not have physical or cognitive problems but may be having problems with communication. These include some high-functioning children with Autism, children with speech delay, communicative disorders or anxiety.
  • Other patients who want to learn a new skill - Habilitative sessions are not just for children. They can also be for other patients who want to develop a new skill but may be in need of physical or cognitive assistance to complete the tasks.

Example Of Habilitative Services

Examples of habilitation services come in many forms. There are specific areas to address in terms of functionality in daily living. Primarily, these types of treatments focus on three main areas:

  • Mobility - Physical therapists address problems in mobility such as keeping proper posture, improving gait, walking independently, or improving range of motion.
  • Activities of daily living - Some children may have difficulties with hand-eye coordination or executive function to do certain tasks. Occupational therapist addresses this by performing therapies in handwriting, grasping objects, feeding oneself, preparing own meals, tying shoelaces or other forms of daily functional tasks.
  • Communication - Speech therapists can address problems in communication. Some children who have conditions such as Autism or Down Syndrome can benefit from habilitation services for language stimulation, social skills therapy, or articulation therapy.

Difference Between Rehabilitation And Habilitation Services

The primary difference between rehabilitation and habilitative services is the condition of the patient prior to care. Rehabilitation involves the restoration and maintenance of the skill that was lost prior to the condition. This can include adults or elderly who may have suffered from a stroke, neurological disease, accidents, traumatic brain injuries, or physical accidents.

Habilitative services involve the development of a new skill which was not present initially. These can include young children or even adults who may want to acquire a new skill through therapeutic services. Although both of these services are done by the same professionals, the statement the goals and the process of learning them differ due to the nature of the problem.

Are Habilitation Services Covered By Health Insurance?

Most marketplace insurances have the coverage of these types of services. These can include therapeutic sessions, provision of assistive devices, integrated habilitative placement in school settings, or even private services that the patient may be in need of.

If a patient has a disability, there are many options for a health coverage that includes the habilitation therapies. All patients with Medicaid or Medicare are also considered to be on the coverage of the health care law, and will not be needing a separate marketplace insurance. Patients who do not have a health coverage can still apply for a Marketplace coverage to see if there are savings option for a private health coverage or through Medicaid.