The field of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation is most often abbreviated as PM&R. It began in the 1930s to address musculoskeletal and neurological problems, but broadened its scope considerably as a response to the needs of thousands of veterans returning from World War II with serious disabilities. The physicians who specialize in PM&R are called physiatrists. They treat a multitude of musculoskeletal and neurological problems with the goal of restoring optimal function. They utilize a host of approaches such as medications, assistive devices, hot and cold therapies, electrotherapies, massage, biofeedback, electrodiagnostics, and therapeutic exercise.
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation has been approved by the Advisory Board of Medical Specialists as a specialty of medicine since 1947. The University of California, Irvine, has had a PM&R department for over forty years. Physicians practicing in the Acute Rehabilitation Unit at UCI Medical Center frequently treat very serious disorders, which can cause extreme functional limitations. An interdisciplinary approach to treatment ensures that all aspects of necessary care are provided by the following: