The Chair of the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department discusses the past, present and future accomplishments of the department.
Timothy R. Dillingham, MD, MS
Chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Penn Medicine
As the most recent William J. Erdman II, Professor and Chairman, I am humbled at the honor of serving in this capacity as the leader of the oldest rehabilitation department in the United States. With this role comes the responsibility of negotiating the many challenges facing academic medicine and physical medicine and rehabilitation in particular. As we look to the future, we are keenly aware of our proud heritage and the long-term commitment to excellence that is a hallmark of Penn Medicine.
The field of rehabilitation saw its greatest growth and acceptance as a field during World War II. The need for rehabilitating wounded soldiers with grievous injuries sustained in the defense of our nation catalyzed the expansion of rehabilitation medicine. At that time the harmful effects of bed rest were discovered, providing further impetus to a paradigm shift in favor of early exercise, mobilization and ambulation to prevent contractures and disuse weakness. Today these principles are firmly woven into the science and art of rehabilitation and have been a centerpiece of care as the medical and surgical management of patients has evolved over time.
A visionary partnership between Penn Medicine and the Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network — Good Shepherd Penn Partners (GSPP) — began five years ago with the goal of blending the best in academic medicine with a leader in rehabilitation care delivery. It's an alliance built on a shared goal of returning patients to their highest level of function. GSPP has grown over the past five years into a robust enterprise that encompasses the post acute care continuum for Penn Medicine. The center of this activity is the Penn Institute for Rehabilitation Medicine (PIRM). The rehabilitation hospital is accredited by The Joint Commission (TJC) and the Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). Penn Therapy & Fitness, the official provider of therapy for Penn Medicine, provides outpatient physical, occupational and speech therapy for patients seeking to regain function and mobility following an injury, illness or accident across many outpatient locations.
Our residency and fellowship training programs teach the next generation of physiatrists, leaders, and scientists the latest in rehabilitation care and professionalism by working with our dedicated faculty and allied professionals in the rich academic environment of Penn Medicine.
The Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation manages patients at all of our hospital locations and staffs the PIRM inpatient services with specialists in the areas of traumatic brain and spinal injury, stroke rehabilitation and post arthroplasty rehabilitation. Our outpatient interdisciplinary clinics are tailored to patients with a variety of musculoskeletal and spine conditions, as well as amputations, and neurorehabilitation disorders. We bring patients the latest in cancer rehabilitation for those suffering the functional consequences of cancer and its treatments. Our clinician scientists are expanding the field of knowledge in rehabilitation in the areas of health services delivery and effectiveness, prosthetic engineering and electrodiagnostic medicine.
We are poised to embrace the future of healthcare delivery in an academic institution that is at the forefront of national health care. This partnership of two organizations dedicated to the highest quality care and cutting edge science is transformative, and we are now realizing the great potential of this endeavor. The Department stands at the crossroads of a unique intersection of academic healthcare and rehabilitation science. We hope our website will provide you access to our services, knowledge of what we offer patients, information about scientific collaborators, or education regarding our outstanding training programs.
Timothy R. Dillingham, MD, MS
Chair, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation;
Chief Medical Officer and Physiatrist-in-Chief, Good Shepherd Penn Partners