Welcome to the UW Department of Rehabilitation Medicine

Vision: A world where all people can fully participate and thrive

Mission: Together we achieve and advance the highest quality rehabilitation care, training, and research

Values: Integrity, Inclusion, Innovation, Impact

The UW Department of Rehabilitation was founded in 1957 by Justus F. Lehmann. Since then, our dedicated faculty and staff have provided the highest quality patient care, education and research in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Our faculty provide inpatient rehabilitation care at the University of Washington Medical Center, Harborview Medical Center, Seattle Children’s Hospital, and the Veteran’s Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System. In addition, we provide musculoskeletal, neurorehabilitation and other outpatient services in clinics throughout the Seattle region.

Our highly regarded education and training programs include residency programs in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Rehabilitation Psychology and Physical Therapy. We participate in medical student education and have fellowship programs in several areas. We offer graduate degree programs including the Doctor of Physical Therapy, Master of Occupational Therapy, and Master of Prosthetics and Orthotics degrees, as well as a PhD in Rehabilitation Science.

Research is a major focus of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine. We are among the nation's leading recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other federal, state and foundation research funding. Our research makes UW Department of Rehabilitation Medicine a leader in the field and improves the lives of our patients.

Department faculty have leadership roles in the UW Disability Studies Program. The department offers a range of community engagement activities and community programs that work directly with individuals and organizations. Many of our programs work to educate organizations, businesses, and the public about disability rights and responsibilities. We also feature programs that work directly with individuals with chronic conditions and disabilities to provide support, assessment, training, and access to assistive devices.

The UW Department of Rehabilitation Medicine is nationally recognized for outstanding research, clinical care and education and has a long history as a regional center. Established in 1957 as the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation by School of Medicine Dean George Aagaard, the department was the first rehabilitation program to serve the Pacific Northwest. Prior to its inception, patients and trainees traveled as far as British Columbia or Colorado for care and training.

Justus Lehmann, MD, was recruited as the first chair to create a research, training and clinical care center. He established a residency training program in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, as well as divisions of Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Prosthetics & Orthotics.

Chair history

Previous chairs of the department, from left: Lawrence Robinson, MD; Justus Lehmann, MD; Walter Stolov, MD.
  • Justus Lehmann, MD, 1957-1986
  • Marjorie Anderson, PhD 1986 (Acting Chair)
  • Walter Stolov, MD, 1987-1999
  • Marjorie Anderson, PhD, 1999-2000 (Acting Chair)
  • Lawrence Robinson, MD, 2000-2006
  • Peter Esselman, MD, MPT, 2007-2023
  • Janna Friedly, MD, MPH, 2023-present

Department of Rehabilitation Early Milestones

1959 – Rehabilitation Psychology was established as an integral part of the department with the recruitment of Dr. William Fordyce.

1960 – First class of baccalaureate degrees conferred for Division of Physical Therapy.

1961 – First class of baccalaureate degrees conferred for Division of Occupational Therapy.

1962 – Awarded a Regional Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RTC) grant, the third such grant awarded to support a broad range of research, training, and clinical service.

1963 – First physician specialist (physiatrist) in physical medicine and rehabilitation graduates.

1970 – Department name changed to Rehabilitation Medicine to reflect that the training programs encompassed all the professional fields associated with medical rehabilitation.

1970s – Inpatient Rehabilitation programs established at UWMC-Montlake, Harborview Medical Center, Department of Veterans Affairs, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Overlake and regional outreach sites.

1972 – First class of baccalaureate degrees conferred for Division of Prosthetics and Orthotics.

2005 – Division of Sports and Spine is formalized - building on the MSK specialty leadership of Mark Harrast, MD, the Sports and Spine Division officially created to recognize the growing specialty in Rehabilitation Medicine.

2006 – Enrollment of the first students in the Rehabilitation Science PhD program.

2007 – The Department of Rehabilitation Medicine celebrates our 50th anniversary as a department. Read Marjorie Anderson's account of our first 50 years (PDF).

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UW Department of Rehabilitation Medicine  
325 Ninth Avenue, Box 359612  
Seattle, WA 98104 
rehab@uw.edu | 206.543.3600 

For Patients