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ABBR - Brazilian Beneficent Association for Rehabilitation

We are a private non-governmental organization with no profit ends.

1. Perspectives on Disability and Rehabilitation Around the World

The activities related to rehabilitation of the physically disabled people begun when social institutions, family and medicine was no longer able to provide to some specific health's demands. Such needs appeared as a result of old fashioned concepts, such as: there was no treatment for preventing and/or recovering from impairments, and that health service only meant medical treatment. The conceptual changes, as well as practices started taking place during the international rehabilitation movement in the 1940's.

The rehabilitation of the physically disabled has always been connected to the economical model which promoted industrial development, labor rationing and scientific advancement. Meanwhile, the number of people who became physically disabled due to wars, accidents at work, car accidents, chronic and/or occupational diseases and disorders increased.

This economic force demanded for treatment procedures from the rehabilitation programs that could reintegrate, as well as integrate those individuals with possibilities to add to the taskforce. In the 1940s, the rehabilitation movement started gaining some amplitude and conquered a series of specific legislative rights, changes in the social welfare systems and in the hospital and ambulatory services.

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 10% of the world's population - approximately 650 million people, of which 200 million are children - experience some form of disability. The vast majority of them, about 80%, live in developing countries, where only 1% to 2% have access to the necessary rehabilitation services.

Disability is both a cause and a consequence of poverty. Health policies, programs and practices impact on the rights of people with disabilities. Most of the developmental initiatives ignore the need of these people. The UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities emphasizes the importance of mainstreaming disability issues for sustainable development. Attention to health and its social determinants are essential to promote and protect the health of people with disabilities and for greater fulfillment of human rights.

The most common disabilities are associated with chronic conditions such as cardiovascular and chronic respiratory diseases, cancer and diabetes; injuries, such as those due to road traffic crashes, falls, landmines and violence; mental illness; malnutrition; HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases. The number of people with disabilities is growing as a result of factors such as population growth, ageing and medical advances that preserve and prolong life. These factors are creating considerable demands for rehabilitation services.

2. Perspectives on Disability and Rehabilitation in Brazil

The most recent Brazilian census was conducted in 2000. It found that 14.5% of the Brazilian population, or about 24.5 million people, have some degree of activity/functional limitation. The Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) reports that the 2000 census was compatible with the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF), which was released in 2001 by the World Health Organization.

Among people with disabilities, visual impairments predominate. About 48.1% had visual impairments, 8.3% had mental impairments, 4.1% had physical impairments, 22.9% had mobility impairments, and 16.7% had hearing impairments. Rates of mental disabilities, physical disabilities, and hearing disabilities were higher among men than among women.


People who suffer from physical disability resent from a variety of neurosensorial conditions which affect them in terms of mobility, body coordination or speech as a result of nervous, neuromuscular and ostheoarticular' damages, or even of congenital or acquired mal-formation. Depending on the case, people who have locomotion problems are able to move independently themselves with the aid of prostheses, wheelchairs or other assistive devices. "When these people develop some kind of self-skills, they are able to move themselves from one place to another, manipulate objects, and be autonomous and independent". (National Health Policy for the Disabled - Secretary of Health Politics/Ministry of Health)

"With great admiration for the work you are doing and with best wishes for the success of your plans for the future."
Albert Sabin, physician and virologist, developed the oral polio vaccine
Visited ABBR on nov/1963





3. ABBR's History


The Brazilian Beneficent Association for Rehabilitation (ABBR), a non-profit organization founded in 1954, had a critical role on the history of rehabilitation of disabled people in this country.

August 5th, 1954 was the starting point for the implementation of a new social-medical assistance for disabled people in Brazil, for which there was no specialized doctors and professionals on Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation able to exercise the essential practices on this specialty.

On this day, the architect Fernando Lemos and the businessman Percy Charles Murray congregated a group of volunteers from the social elite of the state around the noble ideal to provide a different medical assistance for the disabled people, which would involve all the modalities of medical-social assistance, from physical independence to remunerated employment.

This was the beginning of a New Era in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation practices in Brazil.

The first step taken towards this goal was the creation of a pioneer graduate school for Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists which complied with the curriculum of the Rehabilitation School of the University of Columbia, in New York.

ABBR's opening day was celebrated by the President of Brazil, Juscelino Kubistchek, in 17th September, 1957.

The Physical Rehabilitation School and the Rehabilitation Center was conceived under philanthropy inspiration and with the concourse of gratuitous doctors who, for decades and relentlessly, voluntarily worked on forming several new professionals and attended patients who lacked rehabilitation.

ABBR emerged from a never inhabited desert and for more than half a century of work welcomed over 400 thousand patients. Today, ABBR performs about 3,000 treatment sessions a day and welcomes approximately 1,600 patients daily.


In spite of the vast services already provided for the community, ABBR, unrelentingly, continues persisting on delivering even better services to everyone who knocks on its door, and also continues fighting with courage and much devotion to the redemption of our citizens affected by mild or serious disabilities. Its magnificent sole purpose remains: REHABILITATE.


ABBR has been awarded with several Merit's Titles and Diplomas, among of which The National Human Rights Award - 1999, granted by the Ministry of Justice and delivered by the President of Brazil in December, 1999.


4. ABBR's Profile



Offer integrated physical rehabilitation services to people from all ages with quality and social responsibility, stimulating their potentials and maximum independence for living life to the fullest and with dignity.


Keep being recognized as a pioneer Rehabilitation Center in Brazil, constantly seeking excellence and promoting knowledge in a


_ Ethics and integrity in the relationship with all public; _ Humanized care;

_ Transparency in our actions; _ Team work;

_ Stimulate innovation; _ Organizational commitment.

ABBR is a private, non-profit organization, considered to be as of Municipal, State and Federal Public Utility - similar to 501(c) - since 1957 and is recognized for all of its pioneer activities in physical rehabilitation in Brazil as a National Reference Center Institution.  The institution operates solely in the State of Rio de Janeiro due to the multidisciplinary and integrality of rehabilitation treatment.

Services are provided to infants, toddlers, young adults, adults and the elderly. About 70% of our patients are from low income families.

5. Governance Structure

ABBR is a legally constituted, non-governmental organization, created by the joining of ideals and efforts of volunteered citizens who hold non-profitable ends.

ABBR's statute was created by its founders intended as a permanent guideline for the organization's purpose and its formal governance and policies.

Governance Structure:

1. General Assembly - vote resolutions, elect and dismiss members of the Board, approve the annual work plan.

2. Board President - represents the Board of Directors

3. Board of Directors - monitor the organization's operations

4. Advisory Board - make recommendations to the organization's operations

5. Fiscal Council - acts as an audit committee

These are non-remunerated members who voluntarily dedicate part of their time and professional experience to the organization. There is also a cooperative group represented by voluntary women from the high society we call "Legionnaires", who also

ABBR's chief executive officer is primarily responsible to carry out the strategic plans and policies as approved by the board of directors.

6. Rehabilitation Center Services

We are committed to delivering exceptional, multi-disciplinary rehabilitation services to enable physically disabled patients to reach their maximum level of independence following injury or illness.

Our staff is formed by licensed professionals with expertise in physical medicine and rehabilitation committed to a humanized and individualized practice, and their actions are always directed towards the social inclusion of impaired individuals.

ABBR's Rehabilitation Center has the following health care professionals:

Physiatrists; Orthopedists; Rheumatologists; Neurologists; Sports Medicine Physicians; Physiotherapists; Occupational Therapists; Speech Therapist; Psychologists; Pedagogues; Music Therapists and Social Workers.

We offer the region's most comprehensive range of physical rehabilitation services, including:

physical therapy

occupational therapy

therapeutic recreation

sports medicine

music therapy

clinical psychology

speech/language therapy

aquatic therapy

peripheral nerve injuries

rheumatic deseases

Our broad range of services enables us to treat patients of all ages with physical disabilities resulting from:


spinal cord injuries

neuromuscular and skeletal disorders

cerebral palsy

muscular dystrophy

multiple sclerosis

brain trauma


At ABBR, social workers are an integral part of the team, helping patients and their families cope with the practical and emotional concerns that accompany diagnosis and treatment of many illnesses or disorders. Social workers interview families to gather income information, counsel families confronted with social and financial difficulties, intervene in crisis situations, provide information about public policies and assist in discharge planning.

After being evaluated by our doctors, patients are directed to one of our six Units of Treatment to be cared by a multidisciplinary team of health professionals who work integrated throughout patients' rehabilitation treatment.

7. Funding Sources

ABBR has been performing its activities, implementing new routines, improving the quality of services, repairing and fixing its premises, acquiring material and equipment thanks to financial donations received from all over the world.

ABBR's revenue comes from three distinctive areas:

  • Corporate and Individuals grants and contributions
  • Health insurance companies and privately held services
  • Public Grants and Contracts*

* Public grants and government contracts are not enough due to the high costs of treatment and high demand from the community. Because most services offered are destined to low income people (those who cannot afford private services or health insurance plans), the organization has a deficit budget most of the time. Donations received are solely destined to the maintenance of activities and improvement of the premises. 

ABBR is compliant to Regulatory Agencies and Unions and keep management accounts controls which include independent auditing services. Financial statements are publicized in newspapers and affixed on the bulletin boards throughout the institution.


8. Our Numbers




Average (last 3 years)



Doctors' Appointments


Treatment Procedures


Assessments at the Rehabilitation Center


Assistive Devices (prostheses, orthoses, shoes, wheelchairs, etc.)



Average (last 3 years)



Adults under treatment in the Rehabilitation Center


Children under treatment in the Rehabilitation Center



10. How To Contact Us

Address: Rua Jardim Botânico, 660 - Bairro Jardim Botânico - Rio de Janeiro / RJ - Brazil
Zip Code: 22461-000
Phone Number: (011) (55) (21) 3528-6363 / Fax: 2274-6942












Rua Jardim Botânico, 660
Jardim Botânico, CEP 22461-000
Rio de Janeiro, RJ
Tel.: #55 (21) 3528.6363
Fax: #55 (21) 3528.6398
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