What is rehabilitation?
Rehabilitation is a set of interventions that are needed when someone is experiencing or is likely to experience limitations in their everyday functioning. These limitations can be because of ageing or a health condition, including chronic diseases or disorders, injuries or traumas.
Rehabilitation may include:
- exercises to regain the ability to swallow or upper-limb retraining to regain coordination, dexterity and movement of an affected limb
- interventions to improve safety and independence at home and reduce the risk of falls for an older person
- early interventions to address developmental outcomes of a child with, for example, cerebral palsy
- interventions that optimise surgical outcomes after a hip fracture
- interventions to increase physical activity for someone with depression
- interventions to support daily activities and community access for people with, for example, vision loss.
Physiotherapy and rehabilitation
Physiotherapists have a key role to play in helping enable and support people of all ages to recover or adjust, to achieve their potential, and live as full and active a life as possible.
A physiotherapist may develop a rehabilitation programme to:
- assess the nature and extent of any problems
- set goals, based on what is most important to the person they are treating
- provide treatment, support, and advice
- regularly evaluate progress.
The general aim of rehabilitation is to improve strength and mobility and to find ways around any problems. If someone has had a fall, a physiotherapist may recommend using some equipment to help with walking and an exercise programme to improve balance and strength.
Rehabilitation can also help with stamina management in the case of asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome or after major surgery.
Rehabilitation is an investment, with cost benefits for both individual people and society. It can help to avoid costly hospitalisation, reduce the length of stay in hospital, and prevent hospital re-admissions. Rehabilitation also enables people to take part in education and gainful employment, remain independent at home, and minimise the need for financial or caregiver support.