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Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Patient services

The Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Program at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento provides a wide variety of rehabilitation services for adults and children. These services are offered for both inpatients and outpatients. Patients are referred to the program for rehabilitation following severe injuries and illness such as spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, stroke, amputation, orthopedic injuries or neuromuscular disorders which result in a loss of function. The overall goal of rehabilitation is to help the patient become as independent and self-reliant as possible. Each aspect of the program focuses on helping the patient function more independently at home, in the community, and at work or school.

A team of professionals is actively involved in each patient's rehabilitation. These specialists meet together to design a comprehensive program for the unique needs of each patient.

Family education and training are integral parts of the rehabilitation process.  Patients and their families will find the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Unit different from other areas of the hospital. Patients are encouraged to wear their own clothing, eat in the dining room, and be out of their beds as much as possible during the day. Family participation is encouraged. Family can arrange to observe therapy by contacting the patient's therapists.

Inpatient rehabilitation unit


Therapy services

General information about our inpatient rehabilitation programs

Patient expectations:

Participation in rehabilitation activities is a vital part of the rehabilitation process. Patients are scheduled for therapy and activities every day. Patients are required to participate for a minimum of three hours per day in their rehabilitation. The following activities will help patients adjust to their disabilities, regain independence, and return to home and community:  As part of therapy on Friday afternoons, adult patients may participate with the therapy staff in an organized social activity in the hospital or they may go out into the community to shop, attend a movie, go to the park, etc.  On a daily basis, patients are scheduled to eat lunch and dinner in the patient dining room.  

Personal items:

Rehabilitation patients are encouraged to provide the following personal items to assist them in regaining their independence:  

  • Clothing: Three (3) outfits of sweat suits or loose fitting clothing and undergarments. Please note that there are no laundry facilities available for patients. 
  • Shoes: Prefer previously worn rubber soled shoes, low in height, such as tennis shoes.  
  • Toiletry items: Brush, comb, make-up, shaving items, etc.

These items should be labeled with the patient's name. Please have these items available for the patient by the day after admission to the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Unit.    

Family conference:   

During rehabilitation, the team will coordinate a family conference to discuss the patient's discharge goals, needs, and recommendations. Patient and family participation in this conference will help the patient return to a functional role within the family and community.

Community re-entry leave (CRL):           

Toward the end of the rehabilitation stay, a CRL may be approved to allow the patient to leave the hospital for up to eight hours. Patient and family are encouraged to use this time to identify problems or concerns (access, mobility, safety, etc.) prior to the patient's actual discharge.      

 Healthcare team


The rehabilitation doctor is trained to diagnose disabilities in all forms:  physical, mental, social and vocational. The physician sees patients daily and manages their medical problems to improve and maintain optimal  health while participating in intensive therapy. The physician uses a creative team-oriented approach that may include the cooperative efforts of physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, psychologists, social workers and nurses.


Nurses on the rehabilitation unit have special training in the care of PM&R patients. The nursing staff teaches patients and their caregivers vital aspects of their physical care, including skin and wound care, bowel/ bladder care, administration of medications, proper nutrition, ostomy and stoma care, diabetic care, tracheotomy care, measurement of pulse and blood pressure, and safety precautions. In addition, nurses reinforce skills learned in therapy and help patients and their families adapt to lifestyle changes. Patients are taught to become responsible for their own care, helping to ease their return to home and community.

Physical therapists:

Physical therapists teach patients mobility skills needed to become functionally independent. An individualized program is developed and discussed with each patient and with family members as appropriate. The plan includes a list of goals tailored to the strength and movement needs of the patient. Therapists help patients achieve these goals in a variety of ways including mat exercises, wheelchair instruction, and the use of parallel bars or other devices for gait training. The family is instructed in these techniques so that they will be prepared to help the patient achieve maximal independence at home and in the community.

Occupational therapists:

Occupational therapists assist patients in relearning a variety of daily activities, including eating, dressing, and personal hygiene. These activities are referred to as activities of daily living (ADL). Occupational therapists also help patients regain control and function of their arms and hands.  Additionally, the occupational therapist may assess the need for a wheelchair, specialized cushions, or other equipment that will allow patients to function safely and independently in the home and community environment. Therapists instruct both the patient and family on the use of this equipment, positioning and transferring techniques, and activities of daily living.

Speech-language pathologists:

Speech-language pathologists evaluate a patient's communication, thinking processes, and swallowing abilities. Therapy provides patients with skills to improve their attention, memory, reasoning, and understanding of language and speaking, as well as helping patients to eat and swallow safely. Therapy is individualized to meet a patient's needs. Family education is an integral part of treatment. The goal of therapy is to help patients communicate effectively at home, in the community, and in the work or school setting.

Psychologists / Neuropsychologists:

A patient's state of mind affects the extent to which he or she will benefit from rehabilitation and make a satisfactory long-term adjustment to any residual disability. Psychologists evaluate patients' psychological and neuropsychological status and facilitate their adjustment to the rehabilitation process and their adaptation to disability. Services include individual and group therapy,  family support and education, neuropsychological evaluation and cognitive rehabilitation.

For children, consultation with school psychologists and other personnel is provided to facilitate the school re-entry process.

Social worker and discharge planner:

These professionals provide services to ensure that patients and family members know about relevant community resources and to help provide a smooth transition back into the home, community, and work or school setting.  Our social workers run stroke and spinal cord njury support groups that are available to our rehabilitation patients and their families as well as to members of the community