Saturday, September 23, 2023

September 18-24 is National Rehabilitation Awareness Week

Injured man on crutches returning to previous health

The World Health Organization defines rehabilitation as “a set of interventions designed to optimize functioning and reduce disability in individuals with health conditions in interaction with their environment”.

Rehabilitation is a specialty field within medicine. Medical doctors who specialize in this field are known as PM&R (physical medicine and rehabilitation) doctors or physiatrists. They are part of an interdisciplinary team of therapists, case managers, social workers, psychologists and nurses. These specialists work with patients of all ages who have impairments or disabilities affecting the musculoskeletal (bone, joints, ligaments, muscles, and tendons) or nervous (brain, nerves, and spinal cord) systems. 

There are two main goals of rehabilitation medicine:

  1. Maximize function, independence and quality of life
  2. Prevent further decline of functioning

This medical specialty does not work to cure the patient.

Rehabilitation is very patient-centered and individualized. Patient needs that can be covered by rehabilitation medicine include:

  • Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) for self-care
  • Cognition, including concentration, memory, organization, problem-solving
  • Communication: speech, writing, and alternatives
  • Education and training of patient and family
  • Family support (e.g., about discharge planning, financial issues, lifestyle changes)
  • Mobility
  • Pain management
  • Psychological counseling for behavioral and emotional issues
  • Respiratory, including breathing treatments and ventilator care
  • Social skills
  • Vocational training

Rehabilitation is part of the universal health coverage that is key to achieving Sustainable Development Goal #3: “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.” There are numerous benefits to including rehabilitation in the health care provided.

  • Rehabilitation can reduce the impact on the daily lives of persons who have diseases or injuries.
  • Rehabilitation not only aids in recovery, it can help manage, prevent, or reduce the complications from various conditions and interventions.
  • Rehabilitation can slow the progression of some conditions, such as cancer and diabetes, thus improving healthy aging.
  • Rehabilitation can help avoid hospitalization. reduce the length of hospital stays, and prevent hospital re-admission. 
  • Rehabilitation helps patients recover at home and return more quickly to their pre-existing lifestyles.

Some misconceptions about rehabilitation still exist.

  • Rehabilitation is not just for people with disabilities or physical impairments. It is an essential health service for people with any health condition or injury, whether temporary or chronic, that limits their functioning.
  • Rehabilitation should not be a luxury or boutique service, but should be available to anyone including those who can’t afford to pay for it.
  • Rehabilitation is not used only when other treatments fail to prevent or cure a health condition. It should be part of the first-line treatment options that are considered for each patient.

Worldwide, about 2.4 billion people could benefit from medical rehabilitation, but in some low- and middle-income countries more than half these people receive the rehabilitation services that would help them become more independent. This can be caused by emergencies such as disease outbreaks, military conflicts, natural disasters. These emergencies not only cause the need for rehabilitation, but also disrupt existing services.

Celebrate National Rehabilitation Awareness Week by becoming more aware of the benefits of this medical service. For more information, please click these links about physical medicine and rehabilitation from the following organizations:

Friday, September 22, 2023

September 23 is the International Day of Sign Languages

International Week of Deaf People 2023
International Day of Sign Languages 2023

There are more than 300 different sign languages around the world. According to the World Federation of the Deaf, there are over 70 million deaf people worldwide. Over 80% of deaf people live in developing countries. 

Each sign language is a real language with its own vocabulary and syntax. It is not like the spoken language in the country where it is used. There is also an international sign language with a limited vocabulary and less complex grammar that is used informally when deaf people travel away from their home country.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has recognized sign languages as equal in status to spoken languages. It has made its information available in several sign languages, including international sign.

The United Nations has proclaimed September 23 as the International Day of Sign Languages. How can you celebrate? Shine a blue light. Read some of the resources in the links on this page. And learn a few basic phrases in your country’s sign language.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Survey of Experience with ADA Coordinators

The Pacific ADA Center and New York University are conducting a survey of people with disabilities in the US states of Arizona, California, Hawaii, and Nevada, and the Pacific Basin. They want to know how ADA Coordinators are helping people with disabilities in their local communities.

Note that “ADA Coordinator” may not be their job title. Other people working in state or local government offices may help people with disabilities get services or programs they need, and make sure that people with disabilities are not mistreated or discriminated against.

You are invited to participate in this quick survey if you:

  • Are a resident of these states and area
  • Are a person with a disability or a family member of a person with a disability
  • Have worked with a local or state government office on a disability-related issue

The survey is voluntary and anonymous. The responses will help improve training and support for ADA Coordinators.

To participate in this survey, please click this link:

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

September is Sepsis Awareness Month

What is sepsis?

Sepsis is a life-threatening toxic response of your body to an infection. Most cases of sepsis originate in a bacterial infection. Many people who develop sepsis have an underlying medical condition, such as a weakened immune system or chronic illness. Sepsis is the leading cause of deaths in hospitals in the US.

What are the symptoms of sepsis?

Signs and symptoms that a person has sepsis include one or more of the following:
  • Clammy or sweaty skin
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Extreme pain or discomfort
  • Fast or weak pulse
  • Fever, shivering, or feeling excessively chilled
  • Shortness of breath
However, each of these can indicate another cause.  

How dangerous is sepsis?

Sepsis is a medical emergency. According to the CDC, about 1.7 million adult Americans develop sepsis annually. Of these, about 350,000 either die in the hospital or are discharged to hospice.

However, as many as 80% of sepsis deaths could have been prevented if detected and treated early. For every hour of delay of treatment, the risk of dying of sepsis increases by 8%.

What can you do to reduce your risk of getting sepsis?

Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands frequently. Clean skin injuries and keep them covered until they are healed.

Prevent infections by caring for chronic conditions and getting recommended vaccinations.

Know the potential signs of sepsis. If an infection seems to be getting worse, seek medical attention immediately.

For additional information, please see:

Monday, September 4, 2023

Healthinfo Island Displays and Exhibits for September 2023

Healthinfo Island
Click the image to teleport there!

You can teleport to any of the eight displays and exhibits using the SLURLs in this blog post. Click on the poster with the same name as the title of the poster set, and you will get a notecard that contains all the text of the posters plus descriptions of the images. 

If you click each poster, you will get a message with additional information and live links.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Animal Zoonotic Diseases

Managing Sadness

Coping with Intense Emotions



ARGH! Emotional Meltdown

Allergic to Red Meat?