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  • HuntonBrady Architects

3 Ways to Bring Momentum Back Into Your Rehabilitation Facility

by Debra Lemons, AIA, IIDA, Director of Interior Design and Hernan Rivera, AIA


The Bannasch Institute for Advanced Rehabilitation Medicine is not just a building where hospital patients are sent to go, see and do physical therapy. It is a highly immersive therapeutic healthcare environment that reinforces the idea of momentum through both design and technology. Our architects and interior designers recently worked with physicians and physical and occupational therapists to renovate space on the sixth floor of Lakeland Regional Medical Center to create a modern, holistic unit that “lifts up” the patient both literally and figuratively and celebrates their progress.

The best design teams put themselves in the user’s shoes: How do they feel when they arrive in the unit? How do they feel after three weeks? What inspires people to work hard and engage in the rehabilitation process? How does a patient navigate through the space? What aspects of the physical space could be uplifting? Our design process revealed three key ways architects and interior designers can bring momentum back into healthcare rehabilitation facilities:


1. Make It A Modern Machine for Healing. Patients want to get better in a space that is better. And patients who are recovering from stroke, brain injury, knee replacements, cancer, transplants, or other conditions want to move again without anxiety or pain. New technology can enhance therapy and improve recovery. We teamed with Prism Medical to install a ceiling lift/track system that is the first in a Florida hospital to move a patient seamlessly from room to corridor to bathroom for freedom to move with assistance. Patient safety was a key design parameter in this project. The integrated ceiling track lift and support system is in all 32-patient rooms and bathrooms, so they won’t be afraid of falling. Fifteen rooms give access to the corridor via lift system for therapy.

2. Push For Progress. A key design driver of ours was the idea of progress and momentum. The team made design choices that reinforced this maxim, such as incorporating markings in the flooring to show patient progress, and positioning seating at key areas around the corridor for patients to use as benchmarks in their walking progress. The new unit is a holistic space that celebrates patient progress and utilizes technology. It is clean and streamlined.

3. Bring The Outside In. Evidence based healthcare design shows that access to nature is an important part of the healing process. The Institute’s spacious and open dining area is located on the perimeter to allow natural light in to infuse the entire facility with borrowed light. It includes a family area providing comfort and relaxation during or in between their loved one’s treatment. Windows on both sides in the physical therapy gym allow access to natural light. Work areas are grouped for maximum visual access to patients. Staff can also treat patients outdoors in fresh air in a therapeutic landscaped rehab space.

We’re looking forward to hearing the stories of recovery from patients at Bannasch. Their progress is our most important measure of success.

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