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 Welcome From the Chair

We have discovered the next miracle in medicine -- and it is you. The fields of Rehabilitation believe in using your whole body to improve your human performance. The department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Colorado (which we affectionately call "CU PM&R") is at the forefront of using team science, regenerative medicine, and exercise treatments. It is uniquely situated in the state-of-the-art CU Anschutz Medical Campus, the first campus in the nation to be built from ground up to bring research, education, and patient care into one visionary collaboration. Like the Rocky Mountains that provide backdrop of our institutions, CU PM&R is on the rise! We combine the disciplines of rehabilitation medicine, physical therapy, psychology, speech/language therapy, and rehabilitation sciences into a singular department. The following video stories reinforce the mission of the department: "Growing the Value of Rehab." 

The stories of CU PM&R are countless, but here are a few. Joyce Olsezek, MD, a pediatric rehabilitation medicine physician at Children's Hospital Colorado, made an emotional appearance on the Dr. Oz Show describing medical miracles. She was part of the CHCO team that rehabilitated severely brain injured high schooler to later walk across the state at his high school graduation. The miracle of rehabilitation was clearly evident with this story. ​

Read more...​

History of the CU Physical Medicine ​and Rehabilitation Department (PM&R)

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.

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".

Today, the CU Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation has three primary focuses: Education, Research and Clinical Care. Read more...

PM&R News


Dr. Lisa Brenner 

Awarded NIH Grant to Dr. Lisa Brenner, PhD

Congratulations to Dr. Lisa Brenner, PhD, for a newly awarded NIH grant titled “Integrating signals of suicide risk from DoD and VHA data to improve upon suicide risk prevention strategies for combat Veterans.” This grant will aim to merge an existing data set, the Substance Use and Psychological Injury Combat Study (SUPIC), a longitudinal database of over 865,000 Army Active Duty and National Guard/Reserve Soldiers returning from Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation New Dawn deployments with clinical and administrative data available within the Veterans Health Administration, including National Death Index (NDI) data.

Dr. Meredith Mealer 

Coping with Caring, A Nurse's Guide to Better Health and Job Satisfaction

Congratulations to Dr. Meredith Mealer for publishing a new book titled “Coping with Caring: A Nurse's Guide to Better Health and Job Satisfaction.” This book provides the nurse, and the administrators who manage them, with an overview of the psychological disorders that are prevalent in their profession, first-person narratives from nurses who share traumatic and/or stressful situations that have impacted their career and provide detailed descriptions of promising coping strategies that can be used to mitigate symptoms of distress.

Learn more about this book​

Dr. Lisa Brenner 

Newly published study from PM&R faculty

PM&R faculty Lisa Brenner, Claire Hoffmire and Jeri Forster, along with Trisha A. Hostetter, Rachel Sayko Adams and Kelly Stearns-Yoder, have a newly published study that found military veterans with a history of traumatic brain injury (TBI) are more than twice as likely to die by suicide compared with veterans without such a diagnosis. The researchers reviewed electronic medical records of more than 1.4 million military veterans who received care from the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) between Oct. 1, 2005 and Sept. 30, 2015. Combining these records with National Death Index data, they evaluated the severity of TBI, and diagnoses of psychiatric and other medical conditions. Among those that died by suicide, the method was also analyzed.

After adjusting for psychiatric diagnoses, such as depression, the researchers found that those with moderate or severe TBI were 2.45 times as likely to die by suicide compared to those without a TBI diagnosis. Additionally, among suicide decedents, they report that the odds of using firearms as a means of suicide was significantly increased for those with moderate or severe TBI as compared to those without a history of TBI.

Read the full articleRead the full press release

Dr. Cory Christiansen, PT, PhD 

Cory Christiansen, PT, PhD

Congratulations to CU PM&R faculty Cory Christiansen, PT, PhD, who was awarded a five year, $1.9 million RO1 grant from the National Institute of Nursing Research/NIH/DHHS. His study will examine the use of an evidence-based walking biobehavioral intervention to increase physical activity after dysvascular amputation. The intervention leverages successes in conventional prosthetic rehabilitation, while addressing the complex health conditions and chronic sedentary behaviors that underlie dysvascular amputation, with the ultimate goal of improved physical activity self-management to minimize disability.

Dr.Michael Harris-Love 

The Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the Physical Therapy Program welcomed a new Program Director

The Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the Physical Therapy Program welcomed a new Program Director, Michael Harris-Love, PT, MPT, DSc, FGSA on August 1 as Professor and Associate Dean of Physical Therapy Education. He will hold the new Joanne Posner-Mayer Endowed Chair in Physical Therapy announced in May and will continue his role as a Veterans Affairs (VA) investigator through his affiliation with the Eastern Colorado Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center. Dr. Harris-Love was previously the Associate Director of the Human Performance Research Unit and founding Co-Director of the Rehabilitation Research Post-Doctoral Fellowship Program at the Washington D.C. Veterans Affairs Medical Center (DC VAMC) and held faculty appointments at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health and George Mason University Department of Rehabilitation Science. We hope you will stop by the reception at Krugman Hall on Wednesday, September 4 from 3:30-5:00 p.m. to get acquainted with Dr. Harris-Love. The Department owes a debt of gratitude to the outgoing Director, Margaret Schenkman, PT, PhD, FAPTA who has built a PT program ranked within the Top-15 nationally and who is also well known for her leadership in Parkinson’s research.

Amy Bodkin PT, Phd and Aaron Powell, MD 

Amy Bodkin, PT, PhD, PCS & Aaron Powell, MD

Congratulations to CU PM&R faculty Amy Bodkin, PT, PhD, PCS and Aaron Powell, MD who were recently awarded the CU PM&R Research Pilot Award. Their study will aim to collect foot pressures during walking in 40 children with spina bifida using traditional optical motion capture and plantar pressure techniques. By validating algorithms to mask plantar pressures, the team can use the simple plantar pressure technology to obtain basic gait parameters in people with movement disabilities. With an existing database of >140 children with spina bifida, the team will use the valid automated processing techniques to track longitudinal changes in walking ability and foot pressure distribution. This may help identify ways to improve or maintain walking ability in patients with spina bifida.