Celebrating National Rehab Week – Personal Perspectives on Why It Works

This week is Rehab Week, sponsored by the National Rehabilitation Awareness Foundation (NRAF). Events and observances throughout the week focus on educating people about the benefits and impact of rehabilitation, from physical therapies and interventions to building social and communication skills. We asked members of the NARIC team to share their experiences with rehabilitation and their perspective on why it’s important to recovery.

After my hip replacement, I attended physical therapy for 6 weeks and while I thought that the therapy was not helping at the time, and some of the techniques used were very painful, I found that the exercises do work. I was able to get back to work in a short time. – Natalie

The speech therapist who listened to my strained voice was so thorough and so knowledgeable about the paralysis that hit my vocal cords. While I still miss my highest notes, I would not have been able return to my wonderful choral group without her help. – Jess

I received physical, occupational, and recreational therapy after I had my hip replaced a few years ago and I am very appreciative of what these therapists do! Thanks to rehab and the professionals I worked with, I was able to get back to my life better than I was before and I have gained new friends. I would highly recommend going to rehab. Yes, it may be hard work, but it is very worth it! – Marta

Physical therapy was necessary to regain functional mobility after surgery to repair my meniscus last year and to deal with the effects of severe osteoarthritis (OA). The physical therapists listened to my concerns and emphasized the importance of muscle strengthening in preserving my joint health, improving my quality of life living with OA, and prolonging the need for knee replacement. Physical therapy was hard work, even painful sometimes, but now I have the skills in my toolbox to continue to work on my progress at home. – Catherine

Having done three rounds of physical therapy for musculoskeletal/mobility issues, I found each experience different. While all were helpful, I learned that each therapist has his/her own techniques for addressing very specific problems. They listened to my concerns and my goals and tailored the sessions accordingly. Without physical therapy, I know that my functional status would have decreased; the key is to continue doing the exercises at home, after the therapy sessions have ended. – Sheila

Rehabilitation happens with a team: doctors, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, assistants, and you. It works best when everyone on the rehab team is working together. That first week of your recovery, there’s a lot of sharing in meetings as your team collaborates to set your goals. You might feel like their goals and yours don’t match – they want you to work on building your hand strength while you want to start hitting the weights, for example. Trust the process: Your team has the experience and knowledge to help create rehabilitation goals that are achievable and, most importantly, sustainable. – Mark

Interested in learning more about different types of rehabilitation? Check out our Librarian’s Picks for Finding a Rehabilitation Center or Provider and our Frequently Asked Questions about:

Many of the projects NIDILRR funds each year conduct research in rehabilitation interventions and technologies that aim to support the long-term independence of people with disabilities. For example:

Collaborative Machines Enhancing Therapies (COMET) is a Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center conducting research and development in machine-assisted movement therapy. Projects include devices for recovery of arm function following stroke, a soft exoskeleton for gait recovery, and an adaptive wearable balance trainer, among others.

Scale-up of an Innovative, Evidence-Based Movement-2-Music (M2M) Intervention for Adults with Physical/Mobility Disability uses music-based exercise tailored to a person’s functional ability.

The Effectiveness and Underlying Mechanism of a Mindful Attention Program for Traumatic Brain Injury: A Randomized Clinical Trial uses mindfulness as a strategy for long-term cognitive challenges in attention and memory following TBI.

Timing of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) Combined with Speech and Language Therapy (SLT): An Intervention Development Study for Aphasia investigates whether it is optimal for tDCS to be administered before, after, or simultaneously with speech and language therapy for people with chronic aphasia.

These are just a few examples of some of the rehabilitation interventions, therapies, and technology being researched and developed by the NIDILRR grantee community. Visit the NIDILRR Program Database to learn more!

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