Care Team


Rehabilitation Definitions 101


Healthcare and rehabilitation definitions can be confusing. Here is a guide to help you understand a few common terms.

Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (PM&R)


Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (PM&R) is a field of medicine that is focused on restoring function to a person who has lost some physical or thinking function as a result of a disease (e.g., Parkinson’s disease), medical disorder (e.g., asthma, diabetes) or injury.

Who might be included on a rehabilitation care team?


A rehabilitation care team always includes a rehabilitation medical doctor (called a physiatrist), as well as most often a medical professional from each of the following disciplines — medicine, nursing, physical therapy (PT), occupational therapy (OT), speech-language therapy (SLP), respiratory therapy (CRT, RRT) and pharmacotherapy (treatment with medicine), among others.



“Disciplines” in healthcare are areas of focus, study, training, specialties and subject matter. There are different academic degrees and different credentials for each discipline. Some basic medical disciplines include pediatrics (treating children), orthopedics (treating bones, joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles), cardiology (treating the heart), and so forth. A discipline can also be even more specific to the type of care provided. Examples in medicine include doctors, physical therapists, nurses, psychologists, social workers, care managers and nutritionists.



The word “multidisciplinary” means “many disciplines.” If used in a hospital or medical setting, it means individuals from many medical disciplines are brought together in a single team. Every patient has different medical needs, and so members of the team include members from disciplines that meet those unique needs.



The word “interdisciplinary” means “many disciplines working together.” The emphasis here is on the interaction, the collaboration, and thus, “interdisciplinary” describes how the team functions. If used in a hospital or medical setting, it means clinicians from many medical disciplines collaborate on a single team to care for a single patient. Again, because every patient has different medical needs, the team includes representative members from all disciplines that meet those unique needs. 

For definitions of other care team members, visit Your Care Team.

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