Each year, we pause to reflect on the importance of rehabilitation in healthcare and the successes of occupational, physical and speech therapy. So when did we begin setting aside a week devoted to rehabilitation? It turns out that this healthcare holiday is almost 40 years old. Rehab awareness was first celebrated 39 years ago in 1976. At the time, the holiday consisted of a small-scale awareness campaign created by Allied Services Health System, a not-for-profit integrated health system, in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Since that time, the awareness campaign has grown into “National Rehabilitation Awareness Week” and is celebrated annually across the United States. This observance, which falls on the third week of every September, promotes the value of rehabilitation, highlights the capabilities of people with disabilities, salutes the professionals who provide services to this community and renews our commitment to meet the needs of people with disabilities.

The National Rehabilitation Awareness Foundation was established in 1996 by Allied Services, who has continued to serve as the sponsor for National Rehabilitation Week as a nationwide celebration to educate people on the benefits of rehabilitation.

Mission

"The mission of the National Rehabilitation Awareness Foundation (NRAF) is to educate people about the benefits and impact of rehabilitation, develop programs which aim to increase opportunities for the nearly fifty million Americans with disabilities, and help those who are disabled live up to their fullest potential.”

What can we do to support and observe National Rehabilitation Week?

  • Plan an open house and offer health screenings, health information and tours of your facility.
  • Speak to school groups about rehabilitation careers.
  • Organize wheelchair sports challenges. To increase promotion, invite local news reporters and celebrities to participate.
  • Encourage local businesses to participate by displaying educational information about your rehabilitation program.
  • Invite government officials and media representatives to participate in a walking survey of the community to determine if all public areas are wheelchair accessible and take action to correct areas that are not.
  • Be creative and think of fun and unique ways to celebrate with your team and celebrate our wonderful profession!

Last week was National Rehabilitation Awareness Week. We hope all of you have had a wonderful week to reflect on the critical role your care plays or the life-changing rehabilitation you have might have received.

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