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Physical medicine and rehabilitation—a relevant interdisciplinary speciality

The field of physical and rehabilitation medicine (PM&R) has been described as rapidly developing and important medical specialty and the needs of developing own clinical competencies and to adapt them to the demand of modern medicine, of finding tools to fulfil the enormous demands of the comprehensive approach and of developing a scientific concept of the field. One aspect of PM&R is the use of physical modalities (but not only of them) for the prevention and treatment of different diseases and also for their rehabilitation which reflects that these modalities are related to physical energies (such as heat, light, electricity, mechanical forces) but also that they are able to induce (physical, physiological) reactions in the (human) body. “Physical medicine” therefore has been defined by Gutenbrunner as “the medical discipline that covers, on a scientific basis, interventions aimed at improving physiological and mental functioning, using physiological mechanisms (such as reflexes, functional adaptation and neuroplasticity), as well as physical and mental training”. Physical modalities in most cases are applied repeatedly and then are able to induce adaptive modifications of physical functions. Furthermore, the field of PM&R—with the ICF-model as a basis—is a specialty with competencies in diagnostic and therapy as well as of coordination of the multi-professional and interdisciplinary rehabilitation teams, and therefore is needed in all phases of medical care—from acute care (intensive care units) to community-based interventions.

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