Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) Treatment Team

What specialists make up the PM&R treatment team?

A rehabilitation program is specifically designed for each individual depending on the injury, disorder, or illness. A multidisciplinary team approach for care and service is the basis of rehabilitation treatment. Multidisciplinary refers to the fact that many different disciplines work together toward a common goal. The team is usually directed by a physiatrist, with other specialists playing important roles in the treatment and education process. Team members involved depend on many factors, including patient need, facility resources, and insurance coverage for services.

The multidisciplinary rehabilitation team may include, but is not limited to, the following team members:

  • Patient and family. The patient and family are considered the most important members of the rehabilitation team.

  • Physiatrist. A doctor who evaluates and treats rehabilitation patients. The physiatrist is usually the team leader and is responsible for coordinating patient care services with other team members. A physiatrist focuses on restoring function to people with disabilities.

  • Rehabilitation nurse. A nurse who specializes in rehabilitative care and assists the patient in achieving maximum independence, especially in regards to medical care, prevention of complications, and patient and family education.

  • Clinical social worker. A professional counselor who acts as a liaison for the patient, family, and rehabilitation treatment team. The social worker helps provide support, and coordinate discharge planning and referrals, and may also help coordinate care with insurance companies.

  • Physical therapist. A therapist who helps restore function for patients with problems related to movement, muscle strength, exercise, and joint function.

  • Occupational therapist. A therapist who helps restore function for patients with problems related to activities of daily living (ADLs) including work, school, family, and community and leisure activities.

  • Speech/language pathologist. A therapist who helps restore function for patients with problems related to cognitive, communication, or swallowing issues.

  • Psychiatrist, psychologist, or neuropsychologist. A doctor or counselor who conducts cognitive (thinking and learning) assessments of the patient and helps the patient and family adjust to the disability.

  • Recreation therapist. A therapist who coordinates therapeutic recreation programs to help promote social skills and leisure activities.

  • Audiologist. A health care professional who specializes in the evaluation and treatment of hearing and hearing loss.

  • Registered dietitian. A nutritionist who evaluates and provides for the dietary needs of each patient based on the patient's medical needs, eating abilities, and food preferences.

  • Vocational therapist. A counselor who assists people with disabilities to plan careers and find and keep satisfying jobs.

  • Orthotist. A health care professional who makes braces or splints used to strengthen or stabilize a part of the body.

  • Prosthetist. A health care professional who makes and fits artificial body parts, such as an artificial leg or arm.

  • Case manager. A rehabilitation case manager helps plan, organize, coordinate, and monitor services and resources for the patient.

  • Respiratory therapist. A therapist who helps treat and restore function for patients with airway and breathing problems.

  • Chaplain. A spiritual counselor who helps patients and families during crisis periods and helps serve as a liaison between the hospital and the home church or place of worship.

The rehabilitation team meeting

Most rehabilitation teams hold weekly, biweekly, or monthly meetings, depending on the setting. Topics covered at team meetings include such items as the following:

  • The patient's plan of care

  • The patient's progress

  • Short- and long-term goals

  • Length of stay

  • Patient and family education needs

  • Discharge planning

Team meetings help with communication and planning among team members and the patient and family. Reports of team meetings are often shared with insurance companies and case managers to assist in discharge planning, use of resources, and continuation of care.