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The Difference Between Habilitation and Rehabilitation

Nov 14th, 2018 | by NAPA Team


November 14th, 2018

Although they are often used in conjunction, there is a difference between habilitation and rehabilitation.  Physio, occupational, and speech therapies utilize both habilitative and rehabilitative approaches to enable persons with disabilities to attain and maintain maximum independence, in all aspects of life.


Habilitation refers to a process aimed at helping individuals with disabilities attain, keep, or improve skills and functioning for daily living.  For paediatric patients, habilitative therapy often aims to help a child develop motor skills that they have yet to accomplish.

For example, a child with cerebral palsy may require the assistance of a physiotherapist to learn how to sit.  Or another child may need speech therapy to learn how to say their R sounds. Because both of these are skills that the children have yet to accomplish, the aim of the therapy is habilitation.  


Rehabilitation refers to regaining skills, abilities, or knowledge that may have been lost or compromised as a result of illness, injury, or acquiring a disability.

For example – a 30-year-old man who is an active runner trips over a rock and injures his ankle. Due to his injury, this man is unable to walk or run without limping and seeks the help of a physiotherapist to be able to walk and run as he did before. The aim of this therapy is considered rehabilitation, helping this man regain a lost skill.  

 Paediatric Physiotherapy at NAPA Centre

About NAPA Centre

At NAPA Centre, we take an individualized approach to therapy because we understand that each child is unique with very specific needs. We embrace differences with an understanding that individualized programs work better. For this reason, no two therapeutic programs are alike. If your child needs our services, we will work closely with you to select the best therapies for them, creating a customized program specific to your child’s needs and your family’s goals. Let your child’s journey begin today by contacting us to learn more.

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