How do you choose?

NARIC’s information specialists answer about 250 requests each month from people with disabilities and their families. One of the most common questions we get goes something like this:

My father is about to leave the hospital and go to rehab. How do I find a good rehabilitation facility in my area? What are the best rehab places in the country?

Since NARIC is federally funded, we can’t recommend one facility over another. What we can do is help you locate facilities in your area and point you to the tools and resources that can help you evaluate their services and choose the right program for you.

Make a list.

We usually start with the Case Management Resource Guide, a huge directory of health care providers. The information provided is really basic (name, address, phone numbers) but you can search by area code or zip code and get a list of places to start. You will need to contact their admissions personnel to find out what level of rehabilitation care they provide, what services they offer, and what types of insurance they accept. Don’t be afraid to ask for a visit and tour! has several tools to help you find and compare facilities in your area. You can find physicians, compare hospitals and nursing homes, and evaluate healthcare and presecription plans.

Check Accreditations

Two organizations are responsible for accrediting rehabilitation facilities. They are the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) and the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). Both have searchable databases:

  • CARF lets you search by state and type of rehabilitation. Within Medical Rehabilitation, you can search for brain injury and spinal cord injury programs, and inpatient, outpatient, and residential programs.
  • JCAHO’s Quality Check website lets you search by state, zip, and facility name. Listings include any certifications and specialities.

Know what to ask.

We recommend the Consumers Guide to Choosing a High Quality Medical Rehabilitation Program, a free guide available on our website. It includes checklists, questions to ask as you’re looking into a facility and its programs, and a fabulous glossary of terms! Did we mention it’s free? Please feel free to share it with anyone who will be making this decision with you.

Several organizations have guides to help you choose a therapist or a facility:

Check with local support groups and organizations

Look for a support or survivors group in your area. Often the best source of information is people who have “been there, done that.” Condition-specific groups like the NSCIA, the Brain Injury Association, or the American Stroke Association can help you identify and get in contact with support groups. More disability-specific groups are listed in our Ready Reference.

You should check with your primary care provider and insurance company regarding any facility or requirements for referrals.

These and other resources for finding rehabilitation services in your area are available in our Librarian’s Picks for Finding a Rehabilitation Program brochure. You can also call us at 800/346-2742 for help in searching for programs in your area.

Have you used a guide, group, or other resource to help you find and select a rehabilitation facility? Let us know in the Comments section!

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