Rehabilitation medicine

Specialists in Rehabilitation Medicine (RM) work closely with many other medical specialties, healthcare professionals and other agencies to assess and provide interventions to individuals with complex disabling conditions. The aim is to improve their function and promote their participation in society along their whole healthcare pathway.

Rehabilitation doctor

Nature of the work

Rehabilitation physicians serve patients with complex disabilities. The patient demographic is also influenced by the sub-speciality. Neurorehabilitation encompasses patients with traumatic brain injury, stroke or progressive neurological conditions. Spinal cord injury may be traumatic or progressive.

Musculoskeletal medicine includes a wide range of chronic conditions. Limb loss medicine includes a large proportion of patients with widespread vascular disease, or who have congenital limb abnormalities.

Working with such a varied group of patients demands highly developed diagnostic ability and skills in managing both acute and chronic complications are essential.  Rehabilitation physicians have a good perspective along the patient pathway, managing patients from soon after an acute event, through to discharge and ongoing rehabilitation in the community.

The rehabilitation physician typically has responsibility for clinical review of their patients for months or even years and this gives the opportunity to get to know the patient and their family and so deliver holistic care. Excellent communication skills, patience, enthusiasm, empathy and a resilient sense of humour are key attributes for the job.

Current trends in rehabilitation medicine include interfacing with acute services and other specialties:

Common procedures/interventions

These include:


Many doctors in Rehabilitation Medicine develop sub-specialty interests such as:

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