President: Kouzou Nakamura

National Rehabilitation Center for Persons with Disabilities:
Epoch-making Advanced Disabilities Research Center

The National Rehabilitation Center for Persons with Disabilities (NRCD) is an organization within the Department of Health and Welfare for Persons with Disabilities, Social Welfare and War Victims' Relief, under the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. It operates a Hospital, the Rehabilitation Services Bureau, the Research Institute and the College for the purposes of improving the health of persons with disabilities and developing and disseminating the support skills required to realize optimal social inclusion for such persons. The Center is possibly unique in the world in that it concentrates within one organization not only provision of medical, social welfare and job assistance services but also projects and activities for research and development of support technologies and assistive products, development and training of professionals, and international cooperation activities.

NRCD was launched in 1979 as the National Rehabilitation Center for the Disabled. It was created through consolidation of three Tokyo-based facilities; The National Rehabilitation Center for the Visually Disabled and the National Center of Speech and Hearing Disorders were integrated into the then National Rehabilitation Center for the Physically Disabled. Initially, it comprised the Hospital with 50 beds, the Research Institute with one department and the College with one academic discipline, in addition to the Training Center. All departments have progressively evolved and expanded over the subsequent three decades.

While our primary specialization is in projects and activities for people with disabilities, the social issues of chronic disease control and a growing elderly population have come into focus as a result of medical advances and recent social and economic developments, which have significantly altered our perspectives on health matters. Moreover, with respect to measures for persons with disabilities, the placement system was transformed into a contractual system and, in 2006, the Services and Support for Persons with Disabilities Act came into effect. Following the International Year for Disabled Persons in 1981, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was adopted by the United Nations in December 2006. These international developments led to significant changes in our concept of disability. In October 2008, the Center responded to these societal changes by adopting a new name, "National Rehabilitation Center for Persons with Disabilities," and reorganizing its functions to become a national center that not only specializes in physical disabilities but also addresses disability as a whole. The Center was further reorganized in April 2010 to enable it to provide high-quality services and a structure which can meet the needs of the times under an integrated policy. Efforts were made to consolidate national rehabilitation institutions, and the Training center was renamed to become the Rehabilitation Services Bureau. Seven Japanese rehabilitation institutions, including four National Visual Disabilities Institutions (in Hakodate, Shiobara, Kobe and Fukuoka), two National Severe Physical Disabilities Institutions (in Ito and Beppu) and the Chichibu-Gakuen Institution and Clinic for Intellectually Disabled Children were integrated to become the internal organization of the Rehabilitation Services Bureau.

The Rehabilitation Services Bureau operates as a rehabilitation support organization providing the following services for people with disabilities: consultation and assistance; rehabilitation and independent living training; massage, acupruncture and moxibustion training to help them obtain a national license for manipulative therapist(anma massage and shiatsu) therapist, acupuncture therapist or moxibustion therapist; work preparation, job matching and other employment support services.

The hospital offers medical services that focus on rehabilitation for recovery of functions for persons with spinal cord injuries, sufferers of stroke after-effects, persons with higher brain dysfunction, and amputees. It plays a leading role in medical rehabilitation for persons with high-level cervical spinal cord injuries, multiple limbs anputees, and persons with higher brain dysfunction, throughout Japan.

The Research Institute engages in basic medical and bioengineering research concerning impairment of movement function and sensory functions; research and development of assistive products, prosthetics and orthotics; and basic and action-oriented research concerning welfare for persons with disabilities. It provides information to people nationwide through seven research departments and the Information Center for Persons with Developmental Disabilities.

Our College develops specialists through the following courses: Speech-Language-Hearing Therapy; Prosthetic and Orthotics; Rehabilitation for Persons with Visual Disabilities; Sign Language Interpretation; and Rehabilitation Sport. The College also provides training for rehabilitation professionals and welfare service practitioners.

Internationally, we work as a Collaborating Centre that engages in activities designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) in relation to rehabilitation, and we cooperate in projects conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Examples of our involvement in WHO projects include creation of rehabilitation manuals for persons with disabilities and organization of international seminars.

We believe that the role of NRCD, as a core organization involved in disabilities and rehabilitation, is to contribute to improvement of evidence-based medical/social welfare measures through provision of advanced health, medical and social welfare services for maintenance/recovery of living functions for people with disabilities; research and development of rehabilitation technologies/assistive products; development of rehabilitation professionals; and assessment/analysis of information on disabilities, including clinical data, in order to provide independence support and assistance for social participation by people with disabilities. For this purpose, all departments work together toward establishment of an epoch-making center through provision of user-oriented services, structural studies of disabilities, and practice of and research into methodologies for reducing functional and activity restrictions and developing abilities.

I look forward to your understanding of, support for, and cooperation with our efforts.

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