The third week of September ushers in the official start of the autumn season—with cooler temperatures and vibrant, changing leaves. It’s also the time to celebrate National Rehabilitation Awareness Week, an observance honoring therapists for their vital work helping people to recover from debilitating conditions. This year, National Rehabilitation Week takes place September 19-25.
Who Needs Rehab?
As the world’s population continues to live longer, the need for rehabilitation therapy is predicted to increase. Rehabilitation therapy may be needed by people of all ages, from newborns to seniors. There are countless ways in which therapy may help these individuals, such as:
Who Provides Rehab?
The rehabilitation workforce is made up of a wide range of health workers, including but not limited to physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists and audiologists, clinical psychologists, and rehabilitation nurses. Some common rehabilitation specialties include:
Physical Therapy: Physical therapy involves strengthening and conditioning any physical weaknesses after surgery or treatment. Therapists who specialize in physical therapy work with patients to increase their strength and flexibility in muscles and joints.
Occupational Therapy: This type of therapy focuses on the everyday needs of the patient and how best to use the injured body part to recover lost or diminished functionality. Occupational therapy focuses on facilitating personal and professional tasks by rebuilding areas of deficit and finding workarounds for these daily activities.
Speech/Swallowing Therapy: Patients experiencing weakness in their mouth or throat affecting their ability to speak or swallow work with a speech therapist. This therapy focuses on strengthening the weakened muscles to improve a patient’s ability to speak or swallow.
Balance Therapy: Balance therapy, also referred to as vestibular rehabilitation therapy, helps treat problems of the inner ear and the sense of balance that is controlled by the inner ear. This therapy seeks to improve a patient’s sense of balance as well as reduce their dizziness, vertigo, gaze instability, falls, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and inability to concentrate.
Neuropsychology: Neuropsychology is a branch of psychology that is concerned with how the brain and nervous system influence a person’s cognition as well as certain body movements. Neuropsychologists treat those with nervous system disorders, symptoms of which can include memory difficulties, mood disturbances, learning difficulties, and general nervous system dysfunction.
Honoring the Industry
The rehabilitation profession encompasses a vast array of modalities and specialties – all designed to help people live as independently and fully as possible. National Rehabilitation Awareness week gives us the opportunity to honor the contributions of these skilled and dedicated professionals, and to educate ourselves about the wide range of therapeutic resources available to us, our families, and our communities.