Rehabilitation medicine focuses on the diagnosis, treatment and management of people with disabling medical conditions. Rehabilitation medicine physicians work with people with disabilities to reduce the impact of their disease or disability on their daily life, to prevent avoidable complications and to minimise the effects of changing disability.

Rehabilitation medicine serves two main groups of people: those with neurological disabilities and those with limb loss and other musculoskeletal impairments. Some of the conditions covered are: spinal and head injuries, amputation, stroke, multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease, Huntington’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. In childhood these may also include cerebral palsy, spina bifida, congenital limb disorders and muscular dystrophies.

Most aspects of rehabilitation medicine require a multidisciplinary team. There is also much overlap with colleagues in other specialties in neurological, neurosurgical, orthopaedic, palliative care, psychiatric, psychological, rheumatological, vascular and pain medicine, as well as paediatric and geriatric colleagues. Social services and other non-medical agencies are often involved in the rehabilitation process to ensure that suitable care continues outside the hospital.

Related RCP publications

Specialty training

For information about specialty training in rehabilitation medicine, go to the Joint Royal Colleges of Physicians Postgraduate Training Board (JRCPTB) website.

Specialist society

Resource Date
2012 Census specialty reports and commentaries 24 March 2014
2012 Census summary 24 March 2014
Advance care planning 28 November 2011
Webstreamed events Date
Harveian Oration 2012 - Halving premature death (Sir Richard Peto) 18 October 2012
Harveian Oration 2011 18 October 2011