|Functional rehabilitation should be the basis and goal of all best practice techniques. Physicians, social workers, or case managers may refer individuals for specialized rehabilitation services in outpatient, home, or inpatient settings. During prescreening or after referral, therapists evaluate the individual to assess physical and cognitive ability, the overall degree of disability, and the indications for specific types of therapy. A team of appropriate rehabilitation specialists then develops a comprehensive program tailored to the individual's needs. Minor orthopedic conditions such as ankle sprain may only require physical therapy, whereas spinal cord injury requires a complete team of rehabilitation specialists.|
Occupational therapists help an individual to adapt work and home activities by ordering adaptive equipment as needed to facilitate independence and by teaching individuals to conserve energy while performing activities of daily living. Therapists may also instruct individuals in activities that promote fine motor coordination.
Physical therapists help the individual regain functional mobility, strength, proprioception, and range of motion through activities such as balance training, gait training, and exercise programs to stretch and strengthen affected areas of the body. They instruct in body mechanics, postural retraining, and ergonomics. Physical therapists may also order assistive devices as needed to promote independent mobility.
Speech therapists (speech-language pathologists) promote effective communication by strengthening mouth and throat muscles associated with the production of speech and by improving articulation. They may order communication devices for those individuals who are unable to communicate vocally. Speech therapists also promote the ability to safely chew and swallow food through the use of different food textures and exercises designed to promote salivation and sucking, and reduce the gag reflex.
Cognitive-behavioral therapists use mental exercises to improve return of function following head injury, encephalitis, or other nonprogressive neurological condition affecting memory, language skills, reasoning, and other thinking skills.
Respiratory therapists teach breathing exercises and perform chest percussions to decrease chest congestion and increase the volume of inspired air. They may also instruct individuals in the use of supplemental oxygen and inhalers.
Social workers address the needs of individuals and their caregivers by providing psychosocial support and ensuring that adaptive equipment, community-based meal preparation programs, and spiritual support are in place before discharge.
Recreational therapists facilitate return to the community by helping individuals build confidence and improve socialization through activities and community outings.
Psychologists and psychiatrists provide counseling to individuals who face disability. Vocational counselors work with individuals to prepare them to return to work and to redirect individuals to alternative employment if physical impairment prevents a return to their original occupation. Vocational rehabilitation helps individuals learn job skills that will be needed in modified or new employment positions.
Source: Medical Disability Advisor