What is Rehabilitation and Habilitation?

What is Rehabilitation and Habilitation?: Audiologic, or hearing, rehabilitation helps people with hearing loss. Rehabilitation, or rehab for short, helps people relearn skills that they have lost. If an older child or adult loses her hearing, rehab can help her learn to hear again. Babies and young children born with hearing loss have not learned to listen and talk. They need to learn these skills, not relearn them. Hearing treatment for these children is habilitation, not rehab.


Habilitation refers to a process aimed at helping individuals with disabilities attain, keep, or improve skills and functioning for daily living.  For pediatric 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 physical therapist 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.

Hearing habilitation will include:

  • Finding ways for your child to communicate
  • Learning speech and language
  • Learning to listen
  • Training on how to take care of hearing aids and other devices


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 physical therapist 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.

Hearing Rehabilitation will include:

  • Sensory management to optimize auditory function,
  • Instruction in the use of technology and control of the listening environment,
  • Perceptual training to improve speech perception and communication, and
  • Counseling to enhance participation, and deal both emotionally and practically with residual limitations.


Adult Aural Rehabilitation: What Is It and Does It Work? – NIH
The Difference Between Habilitation and Rehabilitation – NAPA
Child Audiologic (Hearing) Habilitation – ASHA

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What is Rehabilitation and Habilitation?

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