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About Us

About the Department

The Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) provides clinical care that restores patients to the highest functional level possible, trains residents and fellows to become leaders in the field and conducts innovative, cutting-edge research in brain injury, spinal cord injury and rehabilitation care delivery.

We currently provide medical direction to adult and pediatric inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation units, and we’re proud to be national leaders in in the field of PM&R, particularly in the areas of traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury and limb loss.

Mission

Our mission is to provide rehabilitation leadership to the Commonwealth of Virginia. We improve the quality of life for individuals with disabilities by maximizing independent living skills, employment and recreation through comprehensive education, evidence-based research and outcome-focused patient care.

History

Our department’s roots go back farther than the field of PM&R itself, and it all started with Simon Baruch, M.D., a Medical College of Virginia graduate and the “father of hydrotherapy in America.”

1862

Dr. Baruch graduates from MCV before becoming a pioneering physician during the Civil War. He performs cutting-edge surgeries in the Egyptian Building, where the department is housed today.

1935

Clinical physical therapy becomes an area of study and practice at MCV.

1940

In recognition of his father’s accomplishments, philanthropist Bernard Baruch forms the Baruch Committee on Physical Medicine at MCV.

1944

The Baruch Committee granted $250,000 to MCV to initiate a program of research and education in the area of physical medicine, with special emphasis on spa therapy, hydrotherapy and climatology.

1947

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation achieves departmental status at MCV.

1952

Herbert Park, M.D., becomes chair of the Department of PM&R. The department transitions from being predominantly physical medicine-based to a comprehensive PM&R program.

1953

The department establishes an occupational therapy section and an audiology and speech training area.

1992

MCV Hospitals consolidates all rehabilitation services under the academic purview of the Rehabilitation and Research Center, and David X. Cifu, M.D., becomes its first medical director.

1998

U.S. News & World Report lists the department among the top 25 PM&R programs nationally and repeats the honor from 2008 through 2011.

1999

Dr. Cifu becomes the Herman J. Flax, M.D. Professor and chair of the department.

2007

Housed within PM&R but spanning multiple schools, departments and divisions, the Center for Rehabilitation Science and Engineering (CERSE) is established to foster interdisciplinary rehabilitation research and training.

2013

In collaboration with the Hunter Holmes McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center, VCU researchers led by Dr. Cifu receives a $62 million federal grant to study traumatic brain injuries in active duty service members and veterans.

2019

VCU receives a $50 million federal grant to continue researching long-term impacts of mild traumatic brain injuries or concussions on service members and veterans.

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