I'm due to write a pretty lengthy text about the rehabilitation process of a disabled person, and I'd like to avoid repeating complex constructions such as "person undergoing rehabilitation". If I understood correctly, both "rehabilitee" and "rehabilitant" may have been used at some point, and they could be acceptable to me, but as a non-native speaker of English, both options seem somewhat "translationese" to me. Can anyone verify if either of these is actually used in health care or if there are other terms that I've missed completely?

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    Try: patient. – Lawrence Jan 27 at 10:27
  • Thank you for your comment, but this term is not specific enough for the purpose of this text. – ttsalo Jan 27 at 11:03
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    If you first use rehabilitation patient you can then refer to them as patient going forward. Unless of course you are referring to more than one type of patient in the document, then you would want to be precise each time with rehabilitation patient. – AbraCadaver Jan 27 at 19:10
  • colloquially: in rehab. It's common enough that when I tell people that I do rehab, I have to say 'construction' afterwards. – Mazura Jan 28 at 0:27
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    I agree with your comment below: "Is it just me or is 'rehab' most often associated with drug or alcohol abuse problems?" It's not just you; I make the same association whenever I hear it. Also, "convalescent" sounds condescending to my ear. With so many types of rehabilitation (e.g., occupational therapy; speech therapy; physical therapy; psychotherapy and other services), I think you need to be more specific when you can. As an editor and a former board member of an agency on developmental disabilities, choosing labels carefully is quite important. "Client" may work well and it is neutral. – Mark Hubbard Jan 28 at 20:58

The most idiomatic and common term would probably be patient. Or if you need something more specific, rehab patient. For example:

“In the Wii system, because it's kind of a game format, it does create this kind of inner competitiveness. Even though you may be boxing or playing tennis against some figure on the screen, it's amazing how many of our patients want to beat their opponent," said Osborn of Southern Illinois Healthcare, which includes the hospital in Herrin. The hospital, about 100 miles southeast of St. Louis, bought a Wii system for rehab patients late last year.

Doctors use Wii games for rehab therapy

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    Thank you for your kind help! It seems that patient is the way to go. Is it just me or is "rehab" most often associated with drug or alcohol abuse problems? – ttsalo Jan 27 at 12:14
  • @ttsalo: the nearest rehabilitation hospital to me doesn't handle drug or alcohol abuse. It's focus is on mobility and being able to take care of yourself: "Programs are tailored to the needs of individuals with arthritis, cancer, cardiac disease, limb amputation, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's Disease, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, status post organ transplantation, and functional decline secondary to prolonged medical illness or neurologic disorders." – user662852 Jan 27 at 21:00
  • Research work at my university focused a lot on the benefits of VR and gaming approach for rehabilitation, either physical or cerebral, and we always used the term 'rehab patient' when talking about the users. – Cendolt Jan 28 at 8:30

How about 'convalescent'?

someone who is getting better after a serious illness or injury
(source: Cambridge)

Or used adjectivally:

"For some months I had been ill in health, but was now convalescent, and, with returning strength, found myself in one of those happy moods [..]"

  • E. A. Poe, The Man of the Crowd
  • Thank you for your suggestion! The term I'm looking for, however, would emphasize the relationship between the person and the service provider (which I was silly enough not to mention before), i.e. someone who is provided with rehabilitative therapy services. If I understood correctly, convalescence is primarily associated with spontaneous recovery from an illness, injury or operation instead of actual patient care? I'm considering defining the relationship more broadly at the beginning of the text and then continuing with "patient" suggested above. – ttsalo Jan 27 at 11:45
  • In that case, "client". Certainly that and even the cringeworthier "customer" are in use in the UK. – Will Crawford Jan 28 at 1:18

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