The social life of disabled people is understudied despite the fact that it is a burning social issue. The author concentrates on rehabilitation as a system of institutions (in contrast to the other perspective on rehabilitation that places an individual in the centre of attention and thus treats rehabilitation as a social process). Rehabilitation is defined at a purposeful act. In order for this act to be meaningfully conducted (and analyzed), it is necessary to define (1) the grounds for decision making (2) diagnosis and (3) the criteria for effects evaluation. In the first domain the author advocates the view, that rehabilitation is not only a process of regaining physical health, but also - and perhaps more importantly - a return to society: to family, social and professional life. The dimension of diagnosis is analyzed through the two case studies (research on people after heart attack and after the amputation of one or both legs). Medical factors did not affect the decision to return to work. The social factors - such as type of work, education and age - appeared to be more crucial. In the third dimension the evaluation of the efficiency of rehabilitation is difficult due to a number of uncontrolled intervening factors. The author suggests that the problem can be solved by means of (a) the operationalization of all rehabilitation procedures and (b) defining the rehabilitation goals so that it will allow deriving the criteria for judging the degree of success (or failure) of the process.