Rehabilitation engineering refers to the development, design, and application of rehabilitation technology. Engineers that work within this field attempt to find ways to assist disabled people by providing a technological solution to everyday problems. Customized rehabilitation equipment — including specialized walkers, hearing aides, and other devices — are generally created by rehabilitation engineers.
Rehabilitation engineers spend most of their time designing orthotic, mechanical, electronic, and assistive objects. All of these items are then used to help people cope with specific disabilities. Rehabilitation engineering facilities often create specialized equipment according to a client's needs. The main purpose of a rehabilitation engineer is to make a person's quality of life better by designing specialized equipment. These engineers can work in hospitals, clinics, or independently.
Frequently, mass-marketed rehabilitation products do not fit the needs of many individuals -- in this case, one size does not fit all. As a response to this dilemma, rehabilitation engineering works towards creating specialized products for each person. Thus, through a thorough evaluation, a rehabilitation engineer can modify an existing product, or create a new product according to a person's needs. Any person in need of specialized rehabilitation equipment can usually benefit from rehabilitation engineering. In order to obtain a uniquely engineered product, disabled people must meet certain eligibility requirements.
These requirements differ drastically depending upon the type of health facility that offers rehabilitation engineering. While some facilities will offer help to any patient that needs it, other facilities may have certain set criteria. Regardless, anyone being considered for an engineered product must go through an extensive examination.
While this type of evaluation can vary, rehabilitation engineers generally look for two things during each evaluation. The first thing that an engineer will note is whether or not a patient can, in fact, benefit from a specialized product. Secondly, the product that a patient is currently using must be insufficient. In short, rehabilitation engineers will not consider a patient who has a perfectly effective product. The effectiveness of a product is determined through a series of intense tests.
Without rehabilitation engineering, people struggling with a disability would have to cope with mediocre rehabilitation equipment. This type of engineering exists in most First World countries. If you think that you could benefit from customized rehabilitation equipment, contact your local hospital, clinic, or other health care facility. Alternately, some independent rehabilitation engineering outfits exist. These facilities can be found by conducting a basic Internet search.