Rehabilitating a Missed Opportunity: Integration of Rehabilitation Psychology Into the Care of Critically Ill Patients, Survivors, and Caregivers

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Objective: Rehabilitation psychologists are specifically trained to work with individuals across the spectrum of health care settings and they have only recently begun to wade into the often deep and challenging waters of the critical care environment and intensive care unit (ICU) setting. Method: In the commentary that follows, we will provide a brief historical perspective on the involvement of rehabilitation psychologists in medical settings and we will describe and interact with the various topics raised in this current special section, all of them pertaining to the intersection of psychology and critical illness. Results: These topics concern the potential role of psychologists in the ICU, the identification and treatment of conditions such as Post-Intensive Care Syndrome, the clinical nuances of cognitive impairment and psychological dysfunction after critical illness, and the legacy of critical illness on families. Conclusion: In light of the relevance of these and related topics, we argue in the commentary that the time for psychologists to become involved in the critical care arena is “now” and we discuss practical opportunities for such involvement.

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