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1.1 What is rehabilitation?

Last amended 
15 December 2014

DVA's rehabilitation approach

DVA's approach to rehabilitation is much broader than just treatment to promote physical recovery from an injury or illness related to service in the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

DVA uses a whole of person approach to rehabilitation which can be best explained by the following definition of rehabilitation used by the Australian Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine:

"The combined and coordinated use of medical, psychological, social, educational and vocational measures to restore function or achieve the highest possible level of function of persons physically, psychologically, socially and economically; to maximise quality of life and to minimise the person's long term health care needs and community support needs."

As a member of the Heads of Workers' Compensation Authorities Australia and New Zealand (HWCA), DVA embraces the rehabilitation philosophies outlined in the HWCA Biopsychosocial Injury Management Package, which is also available from the Rehabilitation service providers page on DVA's website.


Types of rehabilitation support

There are three types of rehabilitation support that DVA clients can access. These are:

Medical management rehabilitation

Medical management rehabilitation is provided as an adjunct to treatment. It helps to restore or maximise a person's physical and psychological function by helping them to manage their treatment or health needs. This may involve helping the person to coordinate their medical treatment appointments or surgical interventions, to help them to understand medical information, to manage their self care needs and to look at their need for aids and appliances, particularly after surgery. Medical management rehabilitation is usually provided where a person is having difficulties managing their treatment or has high support needs.

Further information about medical management rehabilitation can be found in Chapter 5 of this Library.

Psychosocial rehabilitation

Psychosocial rehabilitation interventions aim to change perceptions of injury, pain, the future, loss and life changes as a result of injury or illness. They aim to help alleviate anxiety associated with accepting that an injury has occurred, enhance the recovery process and assist in maintaining or improving a client's wellbeing. Psychosocial interventions help address barriers to the person reaching their rehabilitation goals.

A client's rehabilitation program may focus solely on a package of psychosocial interventions. However, it is more likely that psychosocial activities will be offered in conjunction with medical and/or vocational rehabilitation services.

Further information about psychosocial rehabilitation can be found in Chapter 6 of this Library.

Vocational rehabilitation

Vocational rehabilitation is a managed process that provides an appropriate level of assistance, based on assessed needs, necessary to achieve a meaningful and sustainable employment outcome. Vocational rehabilitation can assist a person to remain in their current employment, or to find alternative employment if that is not possible.

Services may include vocational assessment, guidance or counselling, functional capacity assessments, work experience, vocational training and job seeking assistance.

Vocational rehabilitation incorporates the concept of suitable employment. Suitable employment means that a person's skills, training and experience, together with their medical situation, are assessed. The focus is what the person can do rather than what they cannot do.

There is a growing body of evidence internationally about the health benefits of safe and meaningful work and the importance of employment in helping a person get their life back on track after a work related injury or illness.

Further information about vocational rehabilitation can be found in Chapter 9 of this Library.


Rehabilitation providers

DVA utilises Comcare approved or Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission (MRCC) endorsed rehabilitation providers to work with individual clients to develop whole-of-person rehabilitation plans tailored to their unique needs and circumstances.

Further information about rehabilitation providers can be found in Chapter 11 of this Library.