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Effects of Rehabilitation on the Family

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The patient's family plays a vital part in the rehabilitation process. One of the most important factors in the patient's recovery is family involvement and support.

What are the possible effects of disability on the family?

Family members are affected by the patient's disability, and, many times, become co-managers of the patient's care. They may experience many changes as a result of the patient's disability. Family members often join the patient in a period of grief caused by a loss of function. Severe injury, chronic disease, or disability may mean a change in family roles. For example, a housewife may need to return to work and become the breadwinner after her husband's disability; a son may need to adjust his work schedule to help care for an elderly parent. These changes can cause stress and conflict within the family. Financial problems due to medical bills or unemployment can occur, adding more stress on the family. Changes in living arrangements, childcare issues, and community re-entry can all pose new problems for the patient and family.

By working together with the rehabilitation team, the patient and family can help reduce some of the adverse effects of disability. This can be accomplished by:

  • identifying the adverse effects of disability within the family.
  • working together on realistic solutions.
  • participating in family education and counseling.
  • planning for discharge and community re-entry.

Why is family support important?

Family acceptance and support can help a patient deal with issues related to self-esteem and self-image following disability. Positive attitudes and reinforcement from loved ones often help the individual work towards recovery. Family participation, flexibility, and open communication can overcome many barriers associated with disability. Families who inspire hope can help the individual to adjust and become more confident in his/her own abilities.