Scope of Rehabilitation Nursing Practice

Rehabilitation nursing is a specialty practice area within the scope of professional nursing.  It involves the diagnosis and treatment of individuals and groups who have experienced actual health problems resulting from altered functional ability and altered lifestyle as well as preventative care for potential health problems.

The goal of rehabilitation nursing is to assist individuals with disabilities and chronic illnesses in the restoration, maintenance, and promotion of optimal health. This includes prevention of common complications following chronic illness or disability. The rehabilitation nurse is skilled at treating alterations in functional ability and lifestyle resulting from injury, disability, and chronic illness.

Rehabilitation nurses provide comfort, therapy, and education; promote health-conducive adjustments; support adaptive capabilities; and promote achievable independence. Rehabilitation nurses provide holistic, comprehensive, and compassionate end-of-life care, including the promotion of comfort and relief of pain.

Examples of rehabilitation nursing practice roles:

Academic instructor
Case manager
Clinical nurse specialist
Community nurse
Head nurse
Home health nurse
In-service instructor
Insurance nurse
Nurse clinician
Nurse liaison
Nurse manager
Nurse practitioner
Nursing administrator
Staff nurse

Potential rehabilitation practice settings:

Community agency/home health agency
Department of Veterans Affairs medical center
Educational institution
General hospital (with or without rehabilitation unit)
Insurance company
Long-term care facility
Private company/private practice
Rehabilitation facility
Skilled nursing facility
Sub-acute unit