Shorten SNF Stays by Incorporating High Intensity Rehab

Programs and Resources
​​​Researchers from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus recently released study findings showing that the average SNF length of stay patients decreases by 3.5 days when physical therapists use a high-intensity rehabilitative training program for their patients. In addition, walking speed from evaluation to discharge increased by 0.13/m/s which exceeds clinically meaningful changes in walking speed. The study was published in October in the Physical Therapy journal. 

The same high intensity training program methods examined in the University of Colorado (CU) study are available in an online educational program titled High Intensity Physical Rehabilitation in Medically Complex Populations. This program, a collaboration between CU and AHCA/NCAL and offered through ahcancalED, is designed for physical therapy and occupational therapy rehabilitation professionals (PT, PTA, OT, OTA). 

The course presents an evidence-based approach for the implementation of a high intensity progressive rehabilitation model as part of an evolution from current lower intensity post-acute treatment approaches to address myriad patient needs. Rehabilitation professionals will have access to an interactive multimedia learning experience including responsive, self-paced presentation of foundational concepts, simulated case scenarios, and a moderated discussion environment for learning with fellow clinicians - all informed by the latest learning science and innovative technology.

The goal of the course is to teach rehabilitation professionals better methods of addressing functional decline due to underlying medical complexity and deconditioning from hospitalizations or illness. By the end of this course, rehab professionals will learn how to:

  1. Screen all patients for safe participation in high intensity rehabilitation
  2. Establish an appropriate high intensity plan of care for eligible patients
  3. Execute effective and engaging rehabilitation sessions informed by high intensity rehabilitation strategies
  4. Perform ongoing monitoring of patient response to activity and adapt high intensity plans of care throughout the length of stay
  5. Communicate and document completely and efficiently to facilitate continuity of care
  6. ​Identify current gaps in care for older adults that high intensity rehabilitation can address and advocate for its use in the skilled nursing setting
This self-paced course contains nine learning modules. Each module has an interactive lesson. Some modules have quizzes, some have Slack channel discussions, and some have case simulations to test the mastery of the subject matter. The course concludes with the Post-Assessment/Final Exam and survey.  

CU recommends that the course be taken over a six to eight-week period to allow rehab professionals time to implement and practice the concepts as they are learned. Documentation will be provided by AHCA/NCAL to rehab professionals who successfully complete the course, so that they can apply to their respective state licensing boards for continuing education credits. 

The course fee is $495 for an employee or contracted employee registering as affiliated with an AHCA member facility and $595 for all other non-member registrants. Individuals will register and pay for the course through the ahcancalED platform at this web site: Then, within 48 hours, registrants will receive further instructions on how to go to the CU platform and enroll in the course and begin their coursework.  

Individuals will need to login with their AHCA/NCAL usernames and passwords to register for this course. For assistance obtaining AHCA/NCAL usernames and passwords, individuals should e-mail with their name and facility contact information. Questions about the program should also be directed to​.