The new department works to improve the functional abilities and quality of life for people with physical impairments or disabilities.
PM&R fills an important need at UF Health by providing a medical home for inpatient and outpatient individuals who require long-term care, like those who have experienced a stroke, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, neuromuscular disease, musculoskeletal or sports injury, back pain, congenital disability, or limb amputation, according to founding chair Kevin Vincent, M.D., Ph.D.
“A PM&R doctor serves as a primary care physician for people with complex medical issues, coordinating all the care these patients require to help them become as functional as possible,” said Vincent, who holds the John H. and Mary Lou Dasburg chair in physical medicine and rehabilitation.
“Our physicians are there to look at the whole picture around one patient to help them gain the highest level of function possible, including their physical abilities, psychological well-being, their role within their family and in the community,” he added.
The new department is home to 11 faculty members, with one more slated to begin in September, four advanced practice providers, or APPs, and five staff members. Four second-year residents and four first-year residents are in the department’s four-year training program, and the department plans to continue expanding, eventually adding more specialty physicians and providing more depth within each specialty.
The goal, Vincent said, is to build a top 10 academic PM&R department that provides high-value, high-impact care.
“We want to continue to push the boundaries of discovery in physical medicine and innovative methods of rehabilitative care, and the department of PM&R will allow us to reach our high expectations,” said Colleen Koch, M.D., M.S., M.B.A., dean of the UF College of Medicine. “This new department makes sense for UF Health, but more important, it makes sense for our patients.”
With the transition from a division within the department of orthopaedics and rehabilitation to a free-standing department, Vincent said they are better positioned to compete for federal grants and other research funding.
UF’s PM&R physicians also serve as supervising physicians for the UF Health Rehabilitation Hospital, a collaboration between Select Medical and UF Health and the primary site for the department’s residents during their second year of training. In September, the hospital was recognized as the Best Rehabilitation Center in Florida by Newsweek magazine in its first ranking of the country’s top facilities for rehabilitation care.