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Rehabilitation after a traumatic injury: the care you should expect

It takes time and support to recover from a severe physical (‘traumatic’) injury. Rehabilitation helps people improve their independence and work towards returning to everyday life. A traumatic injury affects people in different ways, physically and psychologically, and their rehabilitation needs can be complex. They are likely to need a team of professionals to help with different things, and they might have to relearn skills like moving around, talking, eating and doing everyday tasks. The way rehabilitation is provided can affect how well people recover, so it is important for it to be well organised for each person’s particular needs.

We want this guideline to make a difference to people who have complex rehabilitation needs after a traumatic injury by:

  • improving the emotional and psychological support people get after their injury
  • starting rehabilitation earlier, as soon as the person is ready, because this usually helps people recover faster
  • thinking straightaway about how the person’s life will be affected by their injury, and planning support like equipment and home adaptations.

Making decisions together

Decisions about treatment and care are best when they are made together. Your health and care professionals should give you clear information, talk with you about your options and listen carefully to your views and concerns.

To help you make decisions, think about:

  • What matters most to you – what do you want to get out of rehabilitation?
  • What are you most worried about – are there risks or downsides to any of the care or treatment you have been offered that worry you?
  • How will your injury affect your day-to-day life?
  • What improvements can you expect from your rehabilitation?

If you need more support to understand any of the information you are given, tell your healthcare professional.

Read more about making decisions about your care.

Where can I find out more?

These organisations can give you more advice and support:

To share an experience of care you have received, contact your local Healthwatch.

NICE is not responsible for the content of these websites.

We wrote this guideline with people who have had rehabilitation after a traumatic injury and staff who treat and support them. All the decisions are based on the best research available.

ISBN: 978-1-4731-4399-9

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