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Rehabilitation Nurses - Helping Patients Cope With Disabilities

Updated on March 11, 2015
Rehabilitation is essential to both physical and mental health
Rehabilitation is essential to both physical and mental health | Source

Introduction

Rehabilitation nurses are specialized medical professionals who provide nursing care to patients who suffer from long-term chronic illnesses or disabilities. Rehab nurses work in clinics and hospitals, in dedicated rehab centers and in the community.

They work closely with the patient and the patient's family to provide the right treatment plans and support and to maintain the patient's quality of life. In this article we explore the main responsibilities of a rehab nurse and how they can assist and care for patients and improve their quality of life. We'll cover:

  • Helping patients to deal with changes as a result of their illness or disability
  • Creating a caring environment
  • Working with doctors, physicians and other medical professionals
  • Developing and providing a treatment plan
  • Educating patients and families on what to expect
  • Helping patients preserve their dignity and independence
  • Developing an understanding and rapport with the patient and their family
  • Working with a patient's family to help them adapt

Helping patients to deal with changes as a result of their illness or disability

Because illness and disability can drastically change a person's lifestyle, rehab nurses assist patients by helping them to deal with those changes.

This means understanding how the changes will impact on a patient's day-to-day activities and longer-term plans. A patient's needs can then be considered by creating the right environment.

Creating a caring environment

Rehab nurses help to provide an environment that supports their patients, both with treatment and with their longer-term living arrangements.

The main focus of this environment is to assist a patient in managing their condition and maintaining their quality of life. This could involve making changes to their home, creating new routines and schedules or advising them on the best way to approach common tasks.

A caring environment is essential to long-term wellbeing and recovery
A caring environment is essential to long-term wellbeing and recovery | Source

Working with doctors, physicians and other medical professionals

Rehab nurses are the main contacts and caregivers for a patient and their family. This means that they often work as a liaison between the patient and the doctors.

They can make sure that a patient's needs are properly explained and covered in the treatment plan, share any concerns with the physicians and act as an advocate for the patient.

Developing and providing a treatment plan

Because the needs of each patient vary so much, it's important that treatment plans are developed for each individual case.

Rehab nurses work with physicians to create and deliver these plans. They consult with patients to find out the specific areas that they need assistance with and ensure that these are dealt with through the treatment plan.

Adapting to a change in circumstances is essential for both the patient and their carers
Adapting to a change in circumstances is essential for both the patient and their carers | Source

Educating patients and families on what to expect

The long-term impact of an illness or disability shouldn't be underestimated. Rehab nurses are responsible for educating patients and their families. They can help plan for a patient's medical and nursing needs in the short, medium and long-term future.

Helping patients preserve their dignity and independence

It's vital that patients feel both cared for and that they are able to lead as normal a life as possible.

Because of this, rehab nurses will often dedicate considerable time to helping their patients continue to live a fulfilled life, preserving their dignity, mobility and independence whilst making things as easy as possible for them.

People suffering from illness or disability do not need to be defined by it
People suffering from illness or disability do not need to be defined by it | Source

Developing an understanding and rapport with the patient and their family

Good communications are essential to helping people get the support that they need. A good rehab nurse provides the right balance of professionalism, empathy and understanding to make sure that the patient and their family get the right types of care.

Working with a patient's family to help them adapt

The impact of a disability or long-term illness isn't just limited to the patient; their family will often have to make significant changes as well.

A rehab nurse can work with the family, advising them on what to expect, how to care for the patient and assist them in making changes to make things easier.

What to expect from rehabilitation

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In closing

A good rehabilitation nurse can make a profound difference to the care of a patient and help to substantially improve their quality of life.

Whether it's through a treatment plan, helping a patient and their family adapt or assisting with other areas, the benefits of having a good rehabilitation nurse are very significant.

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    • tlcs profile image

      Trudy Cooper 2 years ago from Hampshire, UK

      Rehab nurses are very special and can be a godsend for people who have to adapt with disabilities. Your hub is very informative and these nurses do as KJ force said need more recognition.

    • Paul Maplesden profile image
      Author

      Paul Maplesden 2 years ago from Asheville, NC

      I agree that their service and vocation is incredibly important, and that it's vital for them to be empathic. I think that more recognition for these carers that can make a significant difference to other's lives would be a very good thing!

    • kj force profile image

      kjforce 2 years ago from Florida

      Very informative and interesting article.. another descript for these professionals is " empathetic/apathetic angels ". It takes a special type of individual to deal with rehab on a daily basis...I commend these out of the box thinkers, as many situations are not black and white...

      Perhaps we should set aside a special day of recognition for them...

      thanks for your share...great job

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