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May 12, 1962

Ability, Not Disability— The Key to Rehabilitation

JAMA. 1962;180(6):495-497. doi:10.1001/jama.1962.03050190000014d
Abstract

THE ATTITUDE which focuses on ability rather than disability is not new to members of a rehabilitation team. Usually the first step in the medical treatment of a patient with a physical or emotional handicap is to utilize all medical, surgical, and mechanical means to minimize the disability and to develop maximum independence. This means the prescription of physiatric measures, including physical and occupational therapy to hasten in developing good functional levels of muscular strength, coordination, and skill. The prescription may include certain orthotic or prosthetic devices plus the use of adaptive equipment when indicated.

Even before this optimum level of function is realized by the patient, it is wise for the physician in charge to set a focus on the eventual rehabilitation goal. For some individuals this will be optimum self-independence. For others it will be a suitable vocational goal. Establishing a correct prognosis for a large variety of

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