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June 19, 1996

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Author Affiliations

Loma Linda University Medical Center, Loma Linda, Calif

JAMA. 1996;275(23):1843-1844. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530470071042

Restorative care has always been the central focus of physical medicine and rehabilitation (physiatry). Beginning in the acute phase of trauma or illness, restoration of patients with physical impairments and disabilities encompasses a continuum of services required throughout the postacute and chronic phases of care. Physiatrists provide restorative care to patients with a wide range of disabling illnesses or injuries, including such disorders as spinal cord injury, brain injury, and stroke, and musculoskeletal disorders, such as back pain.

Recognition of the efficacy and cost-benefit of rehabilitation led to a major expansion of hospital-based rehabilitation services in the 1980s and early 1990s. Many patients with complex disabilities, such as those after acute spinal cord injury, require acute inpatient rehabilitation. They need close medical monitoring, frequent changes in care plans, intensive rehabilitation nursing, and comprehensive care provided by an interdisciplinary health care team. However, not all rehabilitation patients need such a comprehensive