Introduction and Purpose
My name is Carmen P. DiGiovine, PhD, ATP, RET and this is the introductory post to a blog on rehabilitation engineering, as well fields related to rehabilitation engineering. The purpose of this blog is to increase awareness of rehabilitation engineering, and to describe the role of professionals who work in the field of rehabilitation engineering. Furthermore, as is the case with most blogs, I would like to facilitate a discussion about rehabilitation engineering, not only with other rehabilitation engineers but with professionals and consumers who work with rehabilitation engineers (or may work with rehabilitation engineers in the future).
Future blogs will not only focus on rehabilitation engineering, but will also include my experiences as a professional in this field. Examples include
- my current role as the president of 6 Degrees of Freedom, LLC (www.6degreesoffreedom.com),
- my past position as a clinical assistant professor at the Assistive Technology Unit and Department of Bioengineering - University of Illinois at Chicago (www.uic.edu/orgs/idhd/atu.htm),
- and my graduate experience at the Human Engineering Research Laboratories and Department of Bioengineering - University of Pittsburgh (www.herlpitt.org and www.engr.pitt.edu/bioengineering/main/).
Hopefully, my personal experiences will clarify the role of rehabilitation engineering throughout various service delivery models (e.g. community, education, rehabilitation, vocation). I anticipate that this blog will go off on tangents at times, which is fine given that I want to focus on rehabilitation engineering and related topics such as assistive technology, ergonomics, rehabilitation technology and universal design.
Now, to focus on rehabilitation engineering, I will start with the question I am asked most often, “What is rehabilitation engineering?” I will attempt to answer this question via examples throughout the course of this blog, but for now I will utilize the definition listed in the report entitled “Designing a Career in Biomedical Engineering”, that was created by the IEEE-Engineering in Medicine and Biology (IEEE-EMB) society.
“Rehabilitation engineering is the application of science and technology to improve the quality of life of individuals with disabilities.”
This definition is a slightly modified version of definitions published by Reswick in 1980 & 1983 [2, 3], and Hobson & Trefler in 2000 .
Considering this definition, I’m reminded of the mono ski championships I saw on the X Games (www.XGames.com) yesterday. The skis that these athletes use are a great example of rehabilitation engineering because they utilize numerous engineering principles to improve the quality of life of individuals with disabilities. Examples like these exist all around us, and I intend to showcase these examples throughout the history of this blog.
- (2003). Designing a Career in Biomedical Engineering, IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology: 20.
- J. B. Reswick, “Rehabilitation engineering,” Annu Rev Rehabil, vol. 1, pp. 55-79, 1980.
Rehabilitation engineering, an emergent and now nationally recognized profession, may be defined as the application of engineering and other sciences in combination with medicine to improve the quality of life of disabled persons
- J. B. Reswick, “Technology–an unfulfilled promise for the handicapped,” Med Prog Technol, vol. 9, pp. 209-15, 1983.
Rehabilitation Engineering is the application of science and technology to ameliorate the handicaps of persons with disabilities.
- Hobson, D. A. and E. Trefler (2000). Rehabilitation Engineering Technologies: Principles of Application. The Biomedical Engineering Handbook. J. D. Bronzino. Boca Raton, FL, CRC Press LLC. 2: 146-1 - 146-9.
Rehabilitation engineering is the branch of biomedical engineering that is concerned with the application of science and technology to improve the quality of life of individuals with disabilities.