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. Other specialists play important roles in the treatment
and education process. Team members involved depend on many factors. These include
patient need, facility resources, and insurance coverage for services.
The multidisciplinary rehabilitation team may include the following team members:
Patient and family. The patient and family are considered the most important members of the rehabilitation
Physiatrist. A healthcare provider who evaluates and treats rehabilitation patients. The physiatrist
is usually the team leader. He or she is responsible for coordinating patient care
services with other team members. A physiatrist focuses on restoring function to people
Rehabilitation nurse. A nurse who specializes in rehabilitative care and assists the patient in achieving
maximum independence. The focus is on 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. He or she 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 healthcare provider or counselor who conducts cognitive (thinking and learning)
assessments of the patient. He or she also helps the patient and family adjust to
Recreation therapist. A therapist who coordinates therapeutic recreation programs to help promote social
skills and leisure activities.
Audiologist. A healthcare 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.
This is 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
Orthotist. A healthcare professional who makes braces or splints used to strengthen or stabilize
a part of the body.
Prosthetist. A healthcare 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
Chaplain. A spiritual counselor who helps patients and families during crisis periods. He or
she helps serve as a liaison between the hospital and the home church or place of
Most rehabilitation teams hold weekly, biweekly, or monthly meetings, depending on
the setting. Topics covered at team meetings include the following:
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. This is done to assist in discharge planning, use of resources, and
continuation of care.