Work of Staff with Disabilities in an Urban Medical Rehabilitation Hospital

Diane Pawlowski


This paper describes the experience of staff with disabilities working in an urban in-patient rehabilitation hospital. Findings are drawn from an NIH funded, 2.5 year ethnographic study. Residential medical rehabilitation programs are essential to recovery when traumatic bodily injury or illness markedly impairs a person's ability to function independently. Physical medicine and rehabilitation teaches patients new ways to use their bodies. Unlike the crisis situation of acute care hospitals where survival is the ultimate question, medical rehabilitation staff help patients to adapt and adjust to new lives. One striking factor emerging from the study is the role of staff with disabilities in medical rehabilitation. Staff with disabilities include former patients working as colleagues, administrators, or supervisors of those who once managed their in-patient care, and who now must educate these colleagues and patients about realities of life with disabilities while also changing their attitudes about the nature of disability.

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Copyright (c) 2001 Diane Pawlowski

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