Trustees approve new rehabilitative medicine department

University Park, Pa. — On Jan. 22, University trustees approved the formation of a new department within the Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. The Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) will promote the expansion of the college's existing clinical programs in inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation, the specialized training of medical residents and fellows in the discipline of physical medicine and rehabilitation and conduct research in a wide range of rehabilitative medicine fields.

"The creation of this new department is vital to our ongoing efforts to meet the growing rehabilitation needs of patients and families in central Pennsylvania," said Dr. Harold L. Paz, medical center CEO, Penn State's senior vice resident for health affairs and dean of the College of Medicine. "It dramatically enhances our ability to recruit and retain specialized healthcare providers and therapists. It enables us to advance critical research that will benefit individuals with disabilities, chronic conditions and acute care needs. It also helps us create the next generation of skilled caregivers and therapists necessary to provide comprehensive care to rehabilitation patients."

Clinical and residency training programs and departmental offices will be housed in the new Penn State Hershey Rehabilitation Hospital now under construction near the College of Medicine campus in Hershey, and scheduled to open in September 2010. The specialty hospital is a collaborative venture between Penn State Hershey Medical Center and Select Medical Corporation.

The College of Medicine and medical center plan to pursue accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) for a competitive residency training program in physical medicine and rehabilitation to help fill national and regional shortages of physicians in these areas.

Research programs would be located in offices and laboratories within the College of Medicine. Potential areas of research include topics such as chronic pain in people with disability, prevention of movement disorders following stroke, deterioration of nervous system function with aging, and design of rooms and equipment to allow elderly and chronically ill patients to stay at home longer. Existing collaborative research programs among the College of Medicine and other Penn State colleges at University Park, in these and related fields, will be supported, expanded and enhanced by the creation of the new academic department.

Existing physical medicine faculty and clinical programs, now under the auspices of the Department of Neurology, form the clinical nucleus of the new department, and the basis for the establishment of a new residency training program.

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation becomes the 24th academic department based at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, and the first new academic department since the divisions of Neurology and Neurosurgery were granted full department status in 2003.

The Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation will begin formal operations on July 1, the first day of the new fiscal year. A national search will be conducted to recruit a physician to chair the department.

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Last Updated January 28, 2010