Patients in rehab units are hospitalized for a variety of reasons, including stroke, brain or spinal cord injury, severe arthritis, neuromuscular diseases like MS, or post-surgical physical therapy.
Depending upon their injury or illness, patients may experience nausea, dizziness, paralysis, seizures, loss of bladder and bowel function, cognitive disability, or vision problems. Anxiety and depression are frequently present with rehab patients.
A good rule-of-thumb for art in rehab units is to use very clear, realistic pictures, avoiding any kind of double or reflecting images which could be confusing or disorienting to a patient. Because of vision problems for some patients, fuzzy, impressionistic images are difficult to focus on. Because of the extreme frustration levels, some rehab patients may become violent at times. Generally speaking, art should be very static and serene in rehab spaces.
Landscapes with daylight colors are better than landscapes with nighttime images which could feel empty and be depressing. To a sick person, night is frequently associated with loneliness, heightened pain and fitful sleep. Also many rehab patients experience recurring dreams of the accident, medical emergency, or combat that brought them to the hospital in the first place.
Rehab patients need goals, and the most frequent goal is to just go home. Figurative art, such as images of family, may be used successfully as motivational works inspiring a patient to give it their best to go home as soon as possible.
Also, safety becomes an issue that needs to be considered as far as framing is concerned, using Lexan or at least acrylic glazing to avoid the possibility of shattered glass.