A new study published in The Lancet looks at rehabilitation, a service that the authors say has not been prioritised by countries. The global study presents data for the number of people who would benefit from rehabilitation at least once during the course of their illness or injury. Among the findings:
* One in three people worldwide (2.41 billion people) could benefit from rehabilitation (such as physical and occupational therapy or speech and language therapy) at some point in their illness or injury, according to the estimates.
* Lower back pain is associated with the highest need for rehabilitation therapies in 160 of 204 countries, at 568 million people worldwide. These include 52 million people in the US and 9 million in the UK.
* In India, the greatest need for rehab is due to fractures (90 million people). In China, it is for hearing loss (95 million).
* China (460 million), India (411 million), the US (149 million), Indonesia (76 million) and Brazil (70 million) are the top five countries in terms of greatest number of people in need of rehabilitation services.
* The countries with the greatest need in terms of rate per 1,000 people are Slovenia (515 per 1,000), Bulgaria (511 per 1,000), Czech Republic (502 per 1,000), New Zealand (494 per 1,000) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (493 per 1,000).
The need for rehabilitation services, such as physical and occupational therapy or speech and language therapy, has increased 63% since 1990, from 1.48 billion to 2.41 billion people who could benefit at least once in the course of their illness or injury, the study said. 📣 Express Explained is now on Telegram
The rise in need is mostly the result of a growing and ageing populations, but some conditions, such as short-sightedness in children, have increased in prevalence.
The researchers caution that their findings do not mean that 2.41 billion people have immediate need for rehabilitation therapies at any one time. Dr Somnath Chatterji, one of the authors of the study, from the World Health Organization, said: “Rehabilitation services are often seen as a fallback strategy when preventive or curative interventions have failed, or as a disability-specific service needed only by a minority of the population.
Our findings turn that thinking on its head, as we show that rehabilitation therapies are needed by 2.41 billion people worldwide at some point during their injury or illness. As people are living longer, but often with disability, we believe rehabilitation services require urgent attention from political leaders to give people the best chance of living a healthy life.”
The researchers selected 25 health conditions based on those with the highest number of associated years lived with disability. They excluded conditions for which rehabilitation is not essential and added others where rehabilitation is considered a key intervention as part of an overall management plan.
The prevalence of rehabilitation need was nearly equal between men and women (1.19 billion men, 1.22 billion women), but women experienced more years lived with disability than men (146 million YLD to 163 million YLD).
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