Social workers support patients in physical rehabilitation as members of an in-patient or out-patient interdisciplinary health care team. They work directly with patients and their families, the rehabilitation team and the community.

Social workers help patients work through feelings of uncertainty, loss and grief and support them as they learn to maximize their independence and autonomy. They provide resources to help patients reintegrate into their work and their community, including information on transportation, funding for medical devices and changes to the home environment.

In physical rehabilitation, social workers honour diversity as well as different values and ways of knowing. They foster a safe and inclusive environment, and develop individualized treatment plans based on patient needs, strengths and goals.

Role and responsibilities

Depending on the role and the organization, social workers in this area may:

  • Hold individual counselling and psychotherapy sessions for individuals, couples and families
  • Work as part of an interdisciplinary team to develop individualized treatment plans
  • Liaise with community agencies and service providers
  • Advocate on an individual and systemic level when gaps in service are identified
  • Provide education, presentations, program development and consultations to community organizations
  • Participate in academic activities, like teaching and supervising students
  • Contribute to research initiatives to enhance social work practice and contribute to the body of knowledge associated with physical rehabilitation


Most social workers working in physical rehabilitation must have:

  • Registration in good standing with the relevant provincial or territorial regulatory body
  • Bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in social work from an accredited university

It is helpful for social workers working in physical rehabilitation to have:

  • Experience working as part of an interdisciplinary healthcare team
  • Certification in Emergency First Aid, Cardiopulmonary Heartsaver (CPR) and/or Automated External Defibrillator (AED)