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Rehabilitation engineering

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As defined in the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, rehabilitation engineering is the systematic application of engineering science to design, develop, adapt, test, evaluate, apply, and distribute technological solutions to problems confronted by individuals with disabilities in functional areas, such as mobility, communications, hearing, vision, and cognition, and in activities associated with employment, independent living, education, and community integration.

Rehabilitation Engineers can come from a wide variety of backgrounds, including biomedical, mechanical, and electrical engineering. They may provide direct services to people with disabilities, or may do rehabilitation research, or may develop new products and services.

Rehabilitation Engineers may work alone or as part of a team with occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech language pathologists, counselors, job coaches, and other professionals to help determine the needs of individuals. They frequently work in the areas of home modifications, architectural accommodations, job accommodations, augmentative communication, and mobility assessments.

Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA), whose mission is to "improve the potential of people with disabilities to achieve their goals through the use of technology", is the main professional society for rehabilitation engineers.

Author: Michael Papp
Affiliation: Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services
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