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  Department of Rehabilitation Medicine 
  maximizing potential across the lifespan

Frequently Asked Questions


What is Rehabilitation?

Rehabilitation is the process of restoring skills and function after illness or injury. At our Rehabilitation Medicine facilities, the emphasis is on working in partnership with the patient to maximize independence and realize their potential.

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Who are the members of the Rehabilitation Team?

  • The Rehabilitation Medicine Physician, called a physiatrist, has specialized in physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM & R) and is responsible for medical issues and the overall rehabilitation program.
  • The Rehabilitation Nurse is responsible for daily care, education, and coordination of treatment and training.
  • The Physical Therapist works to improve the patient's strength, flexibility, endurance, coordination, and balance with activities such as moving in bed, using a wheelchair, and walking.
  • The Occupational Therapist provides training in self-care, upper body/hand function, endurance, and independent living skills such as eating, bathing, dressing, using a computer and utilizing any special devices needed to return to school or work.
  • The Speech Pathologist assists patients who have communication or language problems and/or a speech impairment. They may work with patients to improve memory, reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills.
  • The Rehabilitation Counselor helps people through the process of returning to a job, school, or other career alternative.
  • The Psychologist assists people and their families with understanding the changes that can accompany disability or illness. A specialized psychologist, the Neuropsychologist provides identification and assessment of cognitive issues.

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Are there physicians who specialize in my condition?

Yes: all Rehabilitation Physicians at the University of Washington hospitals and clinics are specialists in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Click to find a physician who specializes in your medical condition.

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How do I make an appointment to be seen in clinic or evaluated for inpatient rehabilitation admission?

By clicking on the link below, you can see a full list of contact information for our outpatient clinic locations:

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Do I need a referral from another physician to be seen by a rehab physician or psychologist?

For EMG/SEP, inpatient referrals, Botox injections, blocks and some of the specialty clinics, a referral is needed. A referral is not necessary for our general rehabilitation clinics or our Musculoskeletal (Sports Medicine) Clinics. If your health insurance requires a referral, you are responsible for ensuring this is done prior to your appointment. Follow the link for more detailed information on physician referrals.

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What health insurances do the facilities accept?

We accept most commercial and government health insurance plans and will bill them directly. It is the patient's responsibility to contact their insurance plan representative to see if a referral is required. You will receive two bills for medical services: one from the facility where you were seen, and one from the University of Washington Physicians.

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What is an example of a day I would have in the inpatient unit?

A day in one of our Inpatient Rehabilitation units would include any number of therapies developed in partnership with your care team members. You will meet with your care team at least weekly to assess your progress, and make any needed changes to your care plan. Additionally, you will be able to ask questions during rounds, which are regularly scheduled reviews of patients by their physiatrists.

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What should I expect at my first outpatient clinic visit?

Your first visit to the clinic will include a medical history and a physical evaluation. It may be necessary to obtain laboratory tests, x-rays, or consultations with other specialists. These will be scheduled before you leave the clinic, but may require you to return to the University of Washington Medical Center or Harborview Medical Center at a later date.

The plan of care that is developed will be negotiated between you and the clinic staff. If desired, your care will be coordinated with your primary health care providers and local community resources. Our annual evaluation program is an option for all clients; more information on this program is available on request at the clinic.

We are a teaching medical center so you may be seen and examined by a resident physician in addition to one of our faculty physicians.

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What should I bring to my first appointment?

In addition to your medical insurance information, please bring:

  • Copies of any pertinent medical records, recent evaluations, and tests or x-rays
  • Any assistive devices you use and wish to have evaluated, such as braces, walkers, or a wheelchair
  • A list of your medications and the name and address of your primary care provider

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When will I leave the Inpatient Rehabilitation unit?

Our Inpatient Rehabilitation Care Teams are preparing you for discharge as soon as you arrive. To this end, they work with you to make sure all your questions are answered and that you have learned the needed skills prior to your discharge. These skills are based on the care plan and goals you have developed with your care team, and differ from patient to patient.

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What is CARF?

CARF, formerly called the Commission on Accreditation for Rehabilitation Facilities, is a national organization responsible for overseeing that accredited facilites meet the high standards that have been established for rehabilitation facilities. For more information, please visit the CARF website.

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How will I manage when I leave?

As part of the discharge process, our inpatient rehabilitation care teams will review your ongoing daily needs. Your discharge plan will include information on securing appropriate accommodations, finding long-term support resources, and determining who (family members, friends, etc.) will be able to help you following your discharge. Rehab and recovery do not end when you leave our facilities; your team is dedicated to making your transition as smooth and safe as possible.

Section 8 of our Rehab and Beyond manual (PDF) covers more fully what care may be like after you are discharged. The section includes helpful templates and checklists that you may use to establish yourself following your inpatient rehabilitation process.

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Featured Patient Care Article

Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) & Maintaining Healthy Bowels

For patients with spinal cord injury, each person's bowel program should be individualized to fit his/her own needs, type of nerve damage (upper or lower motor neuron) and other factors.

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Featured Patient Story

Jim Schoeld

Jim SchoeldJim Schoeld credits his UW rehabilitation team with helping him to understand that he could once again be mobile and independent following an accident that resulted in a severe spinal cord injury.
Read more about Jim...

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