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Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

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Founded in 1946, The Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation is one of the oldest departments of PM&R in the United States. The first chairman was Dr. Harold Dinken, who was also the first physiatrist in Colorado. He quickly expanded the department and accepted Dr. George Twombly as the first resident in PM&R in 1947. That same year, Dr. Carl Hoffman was recruited as the first Director of PM&R at the Denver VA Hospital. Dr Dinken went on to establish the Rehabilitation program at General Rose Hospital.

Having joined the faculty at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in 1949, Dr. Jerome W. Gersten became Chairman in 1957. Under Dr. Gersten's leadership, the Department expanded tremendously in clinical service, education and research. Dr. Gersten was one of the first, true "academic physiatrists". He conducted basic science research on the use and effects of physical agents; muscle and nerve function; effects of stress on muscle function; cardiopulmonary rehabilitation; electromyography; and the delivery of rehabilitation health services. The Department was a nationally recognized Research and Training Center in cardiac rehabilitation. Dr. Gersten was a visionary expanding the concept of the Rehabilitation Team.

Dr. Gersten was instrumental in establishing affiliations with other regional rehabilitation programs. These included resident rotations at Denver Veterans Affairs Hospital, Fitzsimons Army Medical Center, Denver General Hospital, Rose Medical Center, The Children's Hospital, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Sewall Rehabilitation Center and Craig Rehabilitation Hospital. He understood the need for diversity of clinical expertise and training.

Dr. F. Patrick Maloney assumed the chair in 1981, followed by Dr. Robert H. Meier in 1985. The Department expanded clinical care and research in burn rehabilitation, prosthetics and aging in spinal cord injury.

Dr. Dennis J. Matthews was appointed chairman on October 1,1997. Dr. Matthews helped develop The Children's Hospital Rehabilitation Program into one of the preeminent programs in the country. Dedicated to the rehabilitation of children and adolescents, the program provides excellence in clinical care, teaching, research and advocacy.

The first training program for physical therapists in the Rocky Mountain region was established in 1947. There were six graduates who completed the first class in 1948. The Physical Therapy Program has continued to flourish under the leadership of Mary Lawrence (1947-1950), Dottie Hoag. (1950-1972), Jim Clinkingbeard (1972-1977), Elizabeth Barnett (1978-1987), Marcia Smith (1987-1988), Pauline Cerasoli (1988-1996), Carolyn Heriza (1996- 2004), and Margaret Schenkman, PhD became director in 2005. Over 1600 students have graduated from the program, which has been continually accredited and ranks as one of the top programs in the country.

The Center for Gait and Movement Analysis was established in July of 1999, crowning the collaborative efforts of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, the Physical Therapy Program, The Children's Hospital, the Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the Departments of Mechanical Engineering at University of Colorado Denver and the Colorado School of Mines. The mulit-million dollar Center is a major focus of clinical care, education, research and scholarly activity.

Assistive Technology Partners was established in 1989 under a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Education, National Institute on Disability Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR). Today, Assistive Technology Partners is part of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, School of Medicine, University of Colorado, and encompasses programs in four major areas: Clinical Services, Outreach and Information Services, Research and Engineering, Education and Professional Development.

Assistive Technology Partners provides a unique integration of capabilities and services for persons with disabilities and associated professional affiliations. Since its founding, Assistive Technology Partners has provided assistive technology information and services to more than 470,000 people around the world. Assistive Technology Partners has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, the National Institute on Disability Rehabilitation Research, the National Institutes of Health, the Colorado Department of Education, and other major funding sources through grant awards exceeding $15 million over the last ten years.

At the core of this service provision is the belief that our clients are valued partners throughout the process, whether they are consumers, family members, caregivers, education professionals, rehabilitation counselors, or health professionals. By establishing a dynamic and interactive relationship with our constituency, we deliver comprehensive services across all environments.

In order to provide services to people throughout the entire state of Colorado, Assistive Technology Partners has one main office and two satellite offices. These are our main office in Denver, the Southeastern Technical Assistance Center (SETAC) in Colorado Springs and the Western Slope Technical Assistance Center(WesTAC) in Grand Junction.


Dr. Jerome W. Gersten