Rehabilitation Medicine for Optimal Quality of Life
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The field of rehabilitation medicine, whose goal is to decrease disabilities and limitations caused by illness or injury, has been developing rapidly and has increasingly entered the public consciousness. But while the development of society, the continuing improvement in our quality of life, and the successes of modern medicine have contributed to the fact that we are healthier and live longer lives than ever before, we are still subject to diseases and injuries that may be accompanied by disturbances of functioning. For this reason, rehabilitation medicine is now more important than ever before.
Rehabilitation is an intensive, extensive, and dynamic process of diagnosis and treatment that involves multidisciplinary teams of professionals striving to help people deal with the negative functional outcomes of illness or injury, which often include physical, emotional, sensory, and cognitive impairments, to significantly improve their functioning. Rehabilitation has a decisive influence on the quality of life of people who suffer from acute and chronic medical conditions. The ultimate goal of rehabilitation is for these patients to be able to function independently at home and in society and enjoy the best quality of life possible for them. Therefore, a multistep, multi-component plan that combines inpatient rehabilitation in the hospital and rehabilitation in the community is essential for the modern rehabilitation process.
Rehabilitation treatment is provided by unique multidisciplinary teams that operate in an integrated manner to serve patients and promote their wellbeing. Various professions are involved in the rehabilitation system: rehabilitation medicine, nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and communication therapy, psychology, social work, and others. Rehabilitation treatment plans are constructed according to a specialized rehabilitation program under the direction of the team leader, a physician whose specialty is rehabilitation medicine.
In Israel, the professional level of rehabilitative medicine is among the highest in the world, but the rehabilitation system is not optimally organized. Most of the rehabilitation facilities are located in the center of the country. In the South, there is a significant lack of rehabilitation beds. Despite the large population of this region, no inpatient rehabilitation center has existed in the entire region until now. Patients from the Negev who are in need of rehabilitation services, among them many IDF soldiers injured in the line of duty, are hospitalized in distant areas, far from their homes and families. The population of the Southern District of Israel constitutes approximately 15% of the total population of the State of Israel (as of 2011). Yet, the number of hospital beds designated for rehabilitation comprises a mere 0.5% of the country’s total rehabilitation beds. This is an untenable situation. The number of people for whom Soroka is responsible in its capacity as a tertiary hospital is currently over one million. Moreover, according to population growth forecasts in the Beer Sheva sub-district that take into account natural growth and the imminent transfer of Israel Defense Forces military bases to the South, by 2025 the Negev population is expected to reach nearly one million, an increase of 30% from 2011.