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Rehabilitation services help boost quality of life, integration into society

Updated : 2023-09-13 (China Daily)

China is channeling more resources and efforts into rehabilitation services for people with disabilities, especially children, to improve their quality of life and acceptance in society.

"Rehabilitation services are a vital way of bettering disabled children's physical functions and promoting their comprehensive development," said Hu Xiangyang, director of the rehabilitation department of the China Disabled Persons' Federation.

"Early in June 2018, the State Council released a guideline, requiring county-level authorities and above to offer rehabilitation assistance to children aged up to six who have autism, or disabilities including visual and hearing impairment, speech, physical as well as intellectual disabilities."

About 407,000 disabled children received rehabilitation assistance last year compared with only 157,000 in 2018, he said.

As of July 31, a total of 318,000 children with disabilities had used these services nationwide, up 18.2 percent year-on-year.

Other organizations also offer rehabilitation services to people with disabilities. For example, Zhijiang Social Work Development Services Center in Zhejiang province conducted a 10-month campaign from August 2021 to June last year.

The center organized 36 horticulture therapy events as well as 33 exercise therapy sessions for about 1,800 disabled people and their relatives.

The center said disabled people can benefit by feeling the living energy of plants, heal themselves mentally and use their hands during horticulture therapy.

Exercise rehabilitation helps disabled people relax and gain the trust of social workers.

Dong Gongmao, Party secretary of Haishu district's disabled persons' federation of Zhejiang's Ningbo city, said offering rehabilitation services is of great importance and can generate remarkable economic and social benefits.

"Our federation is discussing cooperation with some hospitals, under which people can receive medical treatment at the hospitals and domestic rehabilitation after returning home.

"These combined services can help the recovery of limb function and reduce the possibility of acquiring a disability, which in the long run relieves the burden on the family and governments' financial burden," he said.

Feng Dong is the director of the Ningbo Xingbao Autism Family Support Center in Zhejiang and his daughter has autism.

He said that children with autism need lifelong intervention and help, but many rehabilitation institutes refuse to take care of autistic children above 6 or 9 years.

"My center is more like a middleman between rehabilitation centers and parents of autistic children to let these parents know where they can get reliable rehabilitation services for their kids. Also, we ease the parents' concerns and give them lectures to teach them how to get along with their kids in the right way. This creates a more healthy rehabilitation environment for the autistic children," he said.

However, he warned that the rehabilitation industry is experiencing unfettered growth and many parents may be deceived by unauthorized institutes.

Dong, from the Haishu district's disabled persons' federation, said that most of the national funds for disabled people are used to build infrastructure, so rehabilitation services may not be getting enough financial support.

"The public lacks a correct understanding of rehabilitation services and the sector also faces a talent shortage of qualified personnel operating the services," Dong said.

According to the China Disabled Persons' Federation, the nation had 11,661 registered rehabilitation organizations at the end of last year, with around 328,000 people working in the industry.