Rehabilitative and Assistive Technology

Rehabilitative and assistive technology refers to tools, equipment, or products that can help a person with a disability to function successfully at school, home, work, and in the community. Disabilities are disorders, diseases, health conditions, or injuries that affect an individual’s physical, intellectual, or mental well-being. Rehabilitative and assistive technologies can help people with disabilities to function more easily in their everyday lives and can also make it easier for a caregiver to care for a disabled person. The term “rehabilitative technology” is sometimes used to refer to aids used to help people recover their functioning after injury or illness. “Assistive technologies” may be as simple as a magnifying glass to improve visual perception or as complex as a computerized communication system.

Some of these technologies are made possible through rehabilitative engineering research, which is the application of engineering and scientific principles to study how people with disabilities function in society. It includes studying barriers to optimal function and designing solutions so that people with disabilities can interact successfully in their environments.

The NICHD houses the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR). The NCMRR has helped to advance scientific knowledge about disabilities and rehabilitation, while also providing vital support and focus for the field of medical rehabilitation to help ensure the health, independence, productivity, and quality of life of all people.

Common Names

  • Accessible technology
  • Adaptive devices or equipment
  • Assistive devices and technology
  • Communication aids
  • Independent living aids
  • Mobility aids
  • Prosthetics
  • Rehabilitation robotics
  • Wheelchairs
  • Medical rehabilitative aids and devices
  • Rehabilitative engineering
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