Definitions and Scope of Practice

Rehabilitation nursing is a specialty practice area within the scope of professional nursing. It involves the diagnosis and treatment of human responses of individuals and groups to actual or potential health problems resulting from altered functional ability and altered lifestyle.

The goal of rehabilitation nursing is to assist individuals with disabilities and chronic illness in the restoration, maintenance, and promotion of optimal health. 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 promotion of comfort and relief of pain.

Rehabilitation nursing practice occurs in many settings and involves a variety of roles.


Staff Nurse
Nurse Manager
Head Nurse
Nurse Administrator
In-service Instructor
Home Health Nurse
Academic Instructor
Clinical Nurse Specialist
Nurse Clinician
Community Nurse
Case Manager
Nurse Liaison
Insurance Nurse
Nurse Practitioner


General hospital with or without rehabilitation unit
Long term care facility
Educational institution
Insurance company
Private company/private office
Rehabilitation facility
Sub-acute unit
Community agency/home health agency
Dept. of Veterans Affairs Medical Center