1001 Ways to Achieve Rehabilitation : No. 1 Beginning

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

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Defining Rehabilitation

I'm going to make a very generalized statement here: Wikipedia is the boon of every student's existence, yet the bane of every professor or teacher. Whether in grade school, college, or post-graduate work, everyone in the modern age has heard that Wikipedia is not a "reputable source" for academic purposes. The authors at WriteCheck give a great explanation of why this holds true, and it centers around the concept of consensus. Wikipedia is a digital collection of academic conversations held by millions of people aggregated into one format. Now that is pretty phenomenal, even if it's not admissible in academia.

However, I have a little more leeway, given that this is a nontraditional (arguable nowadays) reporting format, and Wikipedia is exceedingly useful. Regarding the word and construct of rehabilitation, Wikipedia states:

"Rehabilitation describes specialized healthcare dedicated to improving, maintaining or restoring physical strength, cognition and mobility with maximized results. Typically, rehabilitation helps people gain greater independence after illness, injury or surgery. Rehabilitation can also be explained as the process of helping an individual achieve the highest level of function, independence, and quality of life possible. Rehabilitation does not reverse or undo the damage caused by disease or trauma, but rather helps restore the individual to optimal health, functioning, and well-being."

The reason I chose to include this, over other possible explanations of rehabilitation, is due to its breadth and depth. There is a lot to unpack here, so let's get begin

  1. Specialized healthcare : The brain and the body are powerful systems and the knowledge and practice of professionally attending to them requires great skill, training, practice, and a certain predilection for lifelong learning, This generally, but not always, means that the folks in these fields are intelligent, hard-working, dedicated, and passionate. Because rehabilitation requires so much, it usually lures in people who are willing to give a lot and who feel called upon to serve others. 
  2. Physical and mental health : Illness, injury, and trauma (IIT) can affect any part of your body and generally affects every part of your life. There are different forms of rehabilitation depending on the type of injury, illness, or trauma.
  3. Functioning : Functioning, in short, is a broad term for routine activities we do every day to survive, including eating, bathing, and mobility, among others. The traditional definition of an activity of daily living (ADL) neglects aspects of socialization and self-care, but I argue that IIT affects our basest ability to do these activities, as well.  
  4. Quality of Life : Quality of life is exactly what it sounds like. The effects of IIT can impact life-satisfaction, sense of fulfillment, motivation, and goal-setting. When these things are diminished, our quality of life is often low. When we feel fulfilled, motivated, and we experience a sense of accomplishment, we are more likely to believe that our quality of life is high.
  5. Restoration : The concept of restoration is very closely tied to rehabilitation. However, the word restoration carries with it certain connotations. Instead, I like to think of it in terms of the adverb restorative. While rehabilitative activities may not always return us to baseline or "normal" or even what was, it can be a powerful, enlightening, empowering and transformative experience. In this sense, it is a restoration of spirit, willpower, and drive, which are not necessarily contingent on a full restoration of ability. From this space, we are more likely, able, and desirous of inhabiting spaces of optimal health and well-being.
  6. Well-being : Well-being is 100% subjective, no matter what anyone else tells you. (Wait, so if that means you think it's 90%, which of us is right? Just kidding!) Your sense of well-being is what you make it. You know at your core when you feel healthy, energized, and alight with passion. How do you know? Intuition. The reason I say that well-being-and any measure of it- is 100% subjective is because only you can know the breadth and depth of your internal experience and when you feel well.
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Why 1001 Ways to Achieve Rehabilitation?

I recently watched a TED Talk by Neil Parischa, author of The Happiness Equation. I was inspired by his message that in order to live a truly awesome life, we necessarily have to incorporate certain mindfulness-based principles into our practice, namely attitude, awareness, and authenticity. His original blog, 1000 Awesome Things, is a reminder that every subject is highly nuanced, with branches, shoots, and roots that are as varied as we are as human beings. In reality, there are probably more than 1001 way to achieve rehabilitation, but my goal is to highlight those that are readily accessible and empowering. My husband and I are always cognizant of the role his disability plays in our lives, and the limitations it has set for both of us. In taking on this project, I hope to not only expand our horizons, but maybe that of others too.

Addressing Limitations

You can do hard things. Trust me. Better yet, trust yourself. While IIT may set certain limits on your life or your abilities, doing a hard thing does not have to mean doing THE hard thing. Instead, it means poking, prodding, nudging, and occasionally shoving the boundaries of your comfort zone to reach a new level of wellbeing and health. It is by no means an easy journey, but it's one worth taking because you are worth it.

I invite you to join us on this challenge. If you see a topic you like and want to implement in your own life in some way, give it a whirl. Be mindful of your limitations so that you don't exacerbate your IIT, but trust yourself to know the different between soft and hard limits. By this I mean, know the difference between undertaking a healthy, transformative action versus trying something that could potentially cause further harm or damage. There is a very fine line between creating discomfort and distress, and it's important to listen to what your brain and body tell you. Also, seek the advice of your physician, psychotherapist, life coach, caregiver, friend, spouse, et cetera whenever trying something really outside of your metaphorical box. While keep fresh flowers is a great method of boosting your mood when you need a pick-me-up, going gluten-free could impact your diet if your condition is related to nutrition. Remember that you really can do anything you set your mind too, but try to be realistic and mindful enough to recognize that you can't necessarily do everything. This holds true for everyone, IIT or not, and this acceptance helps us redirect our energy and effort where we need and want it most.

Speaking of limitations, I have to mention that my title does not imply that you can fully achieve rehabilitation by trying something I share here. The truth is, rehabilitation varies for everyone, and there is no right way. It's also a process without a discrete end, and is often measured in milestones, time, sweat, and tears. The goal of this challenge is to bring more activities, objects, or practices to the table than might be considered otherwise. I also realize that 1001 is a lot, so my time spent researching things for this challenge is likely to be an investment of time, money, and energy. With that in mind, I am going to hold myself to my own advice and to pay attention for signs that the challenge itself may be counterproductive for our joruney here on the humble homestead. We may not always be able or willing to try things ourselves, and we hope that you will give yourselves similar permission to pass as needed.


Begin at the Beginning

The reason I chose this as the first method is because we often spend more time worrying about future obstacles or tasks before we have even set our minds to do the thing. As Henry Moore says, "The important thing is to somehow begin." I actually keep a sign of this in my office for clients and myself, because it is very easy to get carried away with the steps before the actual decision has even been made to fully commit to a new plan or goal.

Whether it's committing to yourself in the quiet of your mind or declaring to someone in your life that you are going to try a new activity to assist in your rehabilitation, it's helpful to simply set your mind to it. Visualize it. You might even consider asking yourself these questions:

  1. What do I want to achieve?
  2. How will I know I am successful? In other words, how will I measure my success?
  3. If I get off track, how will I remind myself why I thought this was important?
  4. What lessons can I take away if I decide it's not for me?
Whenever you are ready, just begin.




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