Disability and Health Related Rehabilitation in International Disaster Relief

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Little scientific evidence on the effectiveness of health-related rehabilitation interventions following natural disaster exists. It is known, however, that absolute numbers of injuries as well as injury to death ratios in natural disasters have increased significantly over the last 40 years and that persons with pre-existing disabilities are more likely to die in a natural disaster.

Natural disasters result in significant numbers of disabling impairments including amputations, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries (SCI), and long bone fractures. Paradoxically, however, the traditional health system response to natural disasters largely neglects health-related rehabilitation as a strategic intervention. This review examined the role of health-related rehabilitation in natural disaster relief along three lines of inquiry: (1) epidemiology of injury and disability, (2) impact on health and rehabilitation systems, and (3) the assessment and measurement of disability.

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