The University Rehabilitation Institute, Republic of Slovenia: its development from the establishment to the present day and its goals for the future
The beginning of rehabilitation in Slovenia cannot be precisely defined, however it started to develop rapidly after 1952. The first incentive came from an academic, professor Bogdan Brecelj, who in 1947 initiated the establishment of the school for physical therapists. In 1953, professor Brecelj with the assistance of international experts combined international experiences and the requirements of that time and designed a program for the development of rehabilitation in Slovenia. The program
was passed by the Council for Healthcare and Social Policy of the Federal Republic of Slovenia. On that basis, the Parliamentary Executive Council of the Federal Republic of Slovenia on January 25, 1954 passed a decree on the establishment of the Institute for Rehabilitation of the Disabled. The decree enabled the construction of the Institute premises on Linhartova Street. It was then believed by many that the location was too remote, especially in regard to the central hospital on Zaloška
Street, but today we can only appreciate the soundness of that decision.
The construction of the premises of the new Institute for Rehabilitation of the Disabled took place from 1954 to 1962, when two dislocated units were moved to the new location: the unit for prosthetics from Vrazov trg with 12 beds and the unit from Vilharjeva Street with 35 beds. The head architect was Danilo Kocjan, who following Scandinavian model designed low and long buildings.
From 1970 to 1980 many professional connections were established at home and abroad. In this period, the Rehabilitation Engineering Center developed the so called use of low frequency currents in rehabilitation which gave the Institute much renown in Slovenia and abroad.
The organization of the Institute was at that time strongly influenced by the activities connected to the change of the national constitution in 1974. The workers' assembly of the Institute decided to form work units. The following work units were established:
- medical and occupational rehabilitation
- prosthetics and orthotics
- science and research
By the end of 1974, the unit for medical and occupational rehabilitation and the unit for science and research joined into the work unit of physical medicine and rehabilitation.
In April 1991, the University Institute for Rehabilitation SOČA became a uniform public healthcare institution and in 1993 changed its name to the Institute for Rehabilitation, Republic of Slovenia. In 2009 the name was changed to University Rehabilitation Institute, Republic of Slovenia.
In the 50 years of its existence, the Institute has become an internationally recognized institution, which with its expertise, experience, research and frequent participation of its experts at important international conferences and workshops, promotes the development of rehabilitation. The Institute can be ranked among the most successful organizations in the field of healthcare. To speak metaphorically, the Institute is an organization going for a trip on a clear sunny day with no bigger obstacles in sight but it decides to take a turn towards the leading institutions in the field of rehabilitation in Europe and around the world.
Robert Cugelj, MSc, General Director