Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Rehabilitation can help you regain strength after illness or injury.

Rehabilitation can help you regain strength after illness or injury.
beginning of content

Rehabilitation after illness or injury

4-minute read

What is rehabilitation?

If you have been injured or had a serious illness, you might need extra help to get better. Rehabilitation services can help you recover from a stroke, a heart attack, a workplace injury, surgery, or many other things.

It is a slow, step-by-step process. Life after your injury may be different to your life before. The goal of rehabilitation is to help you return to living the best life possible, despite any changes.

How can rehabilitation help me?

You might need to use rehabilitation services if you have:

  • had a stroke
  • had a spinal injury
  • had a brain injury
  • suffered burns
  • had surgery
  • had a heart attack
  • had an illness, including a mental illness
  • spent a long time in hospital

Rehabilitation might help you:

  • get moving again
  • regain your strength
  • relearn skills or find new ways of doing things
  • manage your medical appointments
  • manage your treatments
  • access aids and equipment

You can talk to your doctor about what you would like rehabilitation to do for you. With your doctor, you will set some goals. Then you and your doctor will work out how to get there.

Injury and illness can occur at home, at work or elsewhere. As well as helping you physically recover, you may require some adjustments in other areas of your life. Rehabilitation can also provide:

  • social support
  • assistance with returning to work

You will play a very important part in your rehabilitation. You will need to be patient — it takes time — but it can help.

How long does rehabilitation take?

The length of rehabilitation depends on:

  • the help you need
  • your injury or illness
  • your individual pace

Rehabilitation may be a fast process or continue over several years of your life.

Types of rehabilitation services

Rehabilitation services are usually different from standard hospital services. There will be specialised staff involved, like:

FIND A HEALTH SERVICE — The Service Finder can help you find doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and other health services.

Rehabilitation can be done in different settings. These include inpatient and outpatient settings.

Inpatient rehabilitation

Inpatient rehabilitation is done in a:

  • special hospital ward, like a stroke unit
  • specialist rehabilitation hospital or rehabilitation centre
  • private hospital

Health professionals there will work with you, your family and other carers to create a rehabilitation plan. This will set goals and include a discharge plan for going home.

Outpatient rehabilitation

Outpatient (out of hospital) rehabilitation might involve health workers visiting you at home. It may also involve attending clinics as an outpatient or taking part in rehabilitation programs. Sometimes these are group programs with other people who need rehabilitation.

How can I manage rehabilitation costs?

Some people will be eligible for Medicare rebates. Private health insurance might also offer you rebates for rehabilitation, depending on the level of cover.

If you have been injured at work, you might be eligible for workers compensation.

The Healthdirect service finder lists rehabilitation services and allied health professionals in your area.

If you have a service-related injury, your veteran white or gold card can help cover some treatment costs.

Resources and Support

If you want to know more about rehabilitation after illness or injury, talk to your doctor or call healthdirect on 1800 022 222 (known as NURSE-ON-CALL in Victoria). A registered nurse is available to speak to, 24 hours, 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: August 2022

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Your Rehabilitation Team

A wide variety of medical and allied health care providers work in rehabilitation centres

Read more on Limbs 4 Life website

Rehabilitation - My Life After ICU

Rehabilitation helps you keep, get back or improve abilities for daily life

Read more on Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society website

Rehabilitation - What it is and what to expect

Rehabilitation (or ‘rehab’) is the process of improving your health and quality of life after injury, illness or surgery

Read more on ACI - Agency for Clinical Innovation website

Resources - Rehabilitation - St Vincent's Heart Health

Resources relating to cardiac rehabilitation.

Read more on St Vincent's Hospital Heart Health website

Brain injury rehabilitation: an introduction - Synapse

Rehabilitation refers to a variety of therapies and support services available to people following the acute phase of recovery, once medically stable.

Read more on Synapse - Australia's Brain Injury Organisation website

Pulmonary Rehabilitation - St Vincent's Lung Health

Learn more about pulmonary rehabilitation

Read more on St Vincent's Hospital Lung Health website

Rehabilitation | enableme - stroke recovery and support

Rehabilitation is the therapy and activities you do that drive your stroke recovery. Find out what to expect as you re-learn or find new ways of doing things

Read more on Stroke Foundation website

Overview Rehabilitation - St Vincent's Heart Health

Discover how to recover well after a heart procedure and manage your heart condition.

Read more on St Vincent's Hospital Heart Health website


Podiatry is the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of the feet and lower limbs.

Read more on WA Health website

After Lung Transplant - St Vincent's Lung Health

Learn about rehabilitation after lung transplant.

Read more on St Vincent's Hospital Lung Health website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Queensland Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Victorian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.