“Rehabilitation” refers to a process, or a set of related processes, that enables persons with disabilities to interact with their environments and maintain optimal physical, sensory, intellectual, psychological, and social function levels. In common usage, rehabilitation provides persons with disabilities the tools they need to attain independence and self-determination (World Health Organization and the World Bank 2011, 96). While the intent of this definition is straightforward, rehabilitation is a contested concept because major actors in the rehabilitation field employ different perspectives, values, and explanatory models in addressing disability and how to respond to it (Shakespeare 2006a). For some, disability is defined by the medical model—that is, based on a medically identified impairment resident in the individual that can be objectively assessed and is amenable to therapies. According to this perspective, disability is an individual characteristic, medically defined and properly subject to therapeutic interventions. In this tradition, the diagnosis, proposed treatment plan, and rehabilitation process are controlled and performed by medically trained rehabilitation professionals working in hospitals, in-patient rehabilitation units, and outpatient clinics.

This essay may be found on page 148 of the printed volume.

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