The word “Rehabilitation” has been used in many contexts and in many different ways. In the medical field its interpretation has changed considerably in the period from the years before the first world war to that after the second and the ensuing extensive social legislation which followed the Beveridge Report. Changes in definition, although usually enlarging the scope, do not necessarily mean increased application. The multiplicity of statutory and other agencies which have a part in the method and means of returning patients to full industrial and social contact has contributed to the failure to progress with the changes in definition.
Any review of rehabilitation services in this country shows many gaps which are due primarily to a failure by the medical profession as a whole to accept the dynamic philosophy of treatment demanded by rational schemes of rehabilitation and secondarily to the failure of effective co-ordination and integration between government departments, hospitals, general practitioners, public health services, and industry.
The prevailing tendency to isolate rehabilitation in the sphere of physical medicine is criticized as an attempt to evade a responsibility which the whole practising profession must accept. The fundamental function of industry in the process and the importance of the role of the Industrial Medical Officer are emphasized. Resettlement in employment is the crux of the whole process of rehabilitation.
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↵* From the Mackenzie Industrial Health Lecture of the British Medical Association, delivered during the annual provincial meeting of the Association of Industrial Medical Officers, held at Southampton, September 1960.