There are many different types of rehabilitation but they all have one thing in common. The goal of rehabilitation is to return the person concerned to the position they were in before whatever happened took place.
Inevitably, restoration might not always be physically possible. When this is the case medicine now looks to optimizing the quality of life of the person concerned and enabling them with as much independence as possible.
Drug and Addition rehab are different disciplines from people dealing with physical issues resulting from an accident or an injury where the primary focus is about repairing damage where possible and teaching coping skills where needed.
Rehab vs. Physical Therapy
These two are different but involve elements of the other. A person injured in a car crash will need help in rehabilitating in broad terms, they may also need physical therapy to help improve movement or strengthen wasted muscles. The difference here is one of scope with rehabilitation being the broader term.
Rehabilitation will encompass wider aspects. Rehab could include regaining the power of speech just as much as it might include learning to walk again. Physical therapy focuses on the body and movement, gaining strength and building confidence.
This branch of medicine is known as Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R), or Physiatry or Rehabilitation Medicine. The task at hand is not looking for a ‘cure’ there probably is no cure where the patient will be able to continue as if nothing ever happened These practitioners focus on impairments and disabilities in the brain, spine, nerves, joints etc., caused by some event, usually involving accident or illness.
Often this is an intense period of inpatient care where the patient has access to medical professionals 7 x 24 and is involved with a team of careers often very intensively for a relatively short period of time. This may be months but probably does not run into years. However, a patient might work with rehab specialist over the long-term as an outpatient.
Physiatry practitioners have all gone on to specialize in the discipline after they qualified as medical doctors and often becoming specialists in one discipline only. Brain specialists and spinal cord specialists, just two examples out of many, can devote their entire career to one type of injury or event. Paediatrics and Sports Rehabilitation are two other examples of specialties.
Their work is a relatively recent addition to the medical arsenal. The Second World War triggered the need, but it was not until 1946 that Physiatry was acknowledged as a discipline and the name agreed by the American Medical Association.
The need for their work became evident in the polio epidemic of 1952 and thereafter with small steps often years apart, the need for rehab has become accepted. (It took until 1972 for Medicare to become available for disabled and inpatient rehabilitation.)
Now rehab stands as a respected and necessary part of medical treatment. For those who have experienced an unintentional injury, rehab is the real life-saver.