Many people associate the word “rehabilitation” with vocational services or substance abuse recovery. However, our coalition focuses on medical rehabilitation, a branch of medicine that aims to improve, restore and maintain functional ability and quality of life of those with physical impairments or disabilities. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners defines rehabilitation as “health care services that help a person keep, get back or improve skills and functioning for daily living that have been lost or impaired because a person was sick, hurt or disabled.”
Rehabilitation services are provided by teams of highly trained and experienced rehabilitation professionals, including rehabilitation physicians, rehabilitation nurses, physical therapists, speech hearing and language pathologists, occupational therapists, recreational, and cognitive therapists.
Rehabilitation services are provided in a number of settings and at various levels of intensity. For example, an adult recovering from a stroke or brain injury may require intensive inpatient rehabilitation hospital services, followed by regular outpatient rehabilitation therapy. A child diagnosed with multiple sclerosis may require ongoing speech, physical and occupational therapy. An individual who suffers from a heart condition may need intensive cardiac rehabilitation, which can not only help a person recover from an acute event but can prevent future problems and hospital stays.
Rehabilitative services include, but are not limited to, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, cognitive and behavioral therapy, recreational therapy and music therapy. Rehabilitation services can positively impact the health status and functional ability of many individuals with medical conditions, including those living with brain injury, heart conditions, multiple sclerosis, stroke, spinal cord injuries, speech and hearing conditions, limb loss, and cerebral palsy.