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Rehabilitation Medicine

Department Overview

BB928 Health Sciences

The Department of Rehabilitation Medicine provides education for medical students, interns, residents, and allied health students in occupational therapy, physical therapy, and prosthetics and orthotics in a comprehensive approach to rehabilitation problems. This includes special diagnostic and evaluative procedures; methods and rationale in the application of principles of occupational therapy, physical therapy, prosthetics and orthotics, and other health professions; and advanced investigation of special problems encountered in the field. In addition, the department conducts a residency training program for the specialty of physical medicine and rehabilitation.

The department offers curricula leading to the following degrees: Master of Occupational Therapy, Doctor of Physical Therapy, and a Master of Prosthetics and Orthotics. The department also offers post-professional degrees in rehabilitation science (MS and PhD) with options for individuals with previous rehabilitation-related training to pursue academic or research careers.

Occupational Therapy

Janet M. Powell

The profession of occupational therapy appeals to people who enjoy thinking creatively and flexibly to solve problems, and who want to assist people with disabilities perform activities important in their daily lives. Occupational therapists provide services related to occupational performance (activities) in everyday life in the areas of self-care, work, education, or play and leisure. They work with people who have physical illness or injury, social or emotional difficulties, congenital or developmental problems, or who are in need of preventive strategies to enhance health and well-being; and with people in all age groups from diverse cultural and ethnic groups and socioeconomic levels.

Occupational therapists help people with impairments or limitations live as productive and quality of life as possible. Services focus on increasing independence, enhancing development, providing compensatory strategies, and minimizing or preventing disability. Therapists adapt activities and environments, select therapy activities meaningful to clients, and provide client, family, and caregiver education. For example, an occupational therapist may teach adaptive dressing techniques to a client who has lost use of a hand following a stroke, help a child with autism interact with peers, or modify a computer for a young adult with a spinal cord injury returning to work.

Today's occupational therapists practice in rehabilitation centers, outpatient rehabilitation clinics, schools, hospitals, mental health facilities, private practice, skilled nursing facilities, home healthcare, and community health programs. The most common work settings for occupational therapists are school systems, hospitals, and long-term care facilities. The current and future job outlook for occupational therapists is excellent. The occupational therapy program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE), which can be contacted at: ACOTE c/o Accreditation Department AOTA, 4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD, 20814-3449, phone (301) 652-2682. Standards comply with the U.S. Department of Education criteria for recognition of accrediting agencies. Graduates of the program are eligible to sit for the national certification examination for occupational therapist. The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) is the certifying agency responsible for development and implementation of this examination. Most states, including Washington, require state licensure in order to practice.

Master of Occupational Therapy

Admission Requirements

  1. Applicants must have completed a bachelor's degree in any major and taken the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) within the past five years. Seven prerequisite courses must be completed prior to admission to the program. In addition, applicants must have volunteer or work experience in at least two practice areas of occupational therapy. The admission process occurs once a year for entry autumn quarter of each year; applications are evaluated starting January 15 of each year.
  2. Specific prerequisite courses at the UW include the following. For students who have attended schools other than the UW, comparable courses must be taken:
    1. Natural Sciences: BIOL 118; B STR 301; CHEM 120; EDPSY 490
    2. Social Sciences: PSYCH 305; PSYCH 306; SOC 110 or ANTH 202
  3. To apply, students must have completed five of the prerequisite courses, with three courses in the natural sciences. They must have earned a 3.00 minimum GPA in the prerequisite courses with no single course graded less than 2.7; and have a minimum 3.00 GPA on the most recent 60 semester or 90 quarter credits. Admission is based on academic ability, communication skills, and understanding and experience in occupational therapy. Detailed program requirements and selection process information may be obtained by calling 206-598-5764, or by consulting the program's website at, or by sending an email to

Degree Requirements

Courses: The following courses must be completed satisfactorily in the scheduled sequence, beginning autumn quarter only, at the UW: REHAB 510, REHAB 522, REHAB 533, REHAB 541, REHAB 542, REHAB 543, REHAB 544, REHAB 545, REHAB 548, REHAB 551, REHAB 566, REHAB 570, REHAB 571, REHAB 572, REHAB 574, REHAB 575, REHAB 576, REHAB 577, REHAB 578, REHAB 579, REHAB 580, REHAB 581, REHAB 582, REHAB 584, REHAB 585, REHAB 591, and REHAB 594.

Student Evaluation: The University grade-point system is used in student evaluation. A student must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 in all required professional coursework to retain satisfactory standing and to graduate. Detailed scholastic requirements are available on the program's website at

Continuation Policy: If at any point the OT curriculum cumulative GPA falls below 3.00, the student is placed on academic probation and must raise it to 3.00 by the end of two subsequent quarters. If a student is unable to remove his or her probation status, he or she is subject to dismissal from the program. If a student receives a grade below 2.7 in a required course, continuation in the program is reviewed and determined by the Occupational Therapy Advisory and Evaluation Committee.

Fieldwork Placement: The student must satisfactorily complete all academic coursework before taking the two required Level II Fieldwork placements (REHAB 594). Both fieldwork placements must be satisfactorily completed within 24 months following completion of the academic portion of the program in order to graduate.

For more information on the Master of Occupational Therapy program, visit the department's website at

Physical Therapy

Mark Guthrie

Physical therapy is a direct form of professional patient care that can be applied in most disciplines of medicine. The principal objective in physical therapy is to restore or improve motor function in individuals with musculoskeletal or neuromuscular conditions.

Management of problems related to motor function is only part of the work of physical therapy. Equally important is rebuilding self-confidence and creating a desire to return to a normal, active life. Other primary objectives of physical therapy are prevention of disability and pain, and training in mobility skills for those who must adapt to permanent disability.

As a consequence of the scope of the profession, physical therapists function in a variety of settings, the most familiar being the hospital. Physical therapists also plan, provide, evaluate, and direct patient care in outpatient clinics, rehabilitation centers, health maintenance organizations, developmental centers, home-health agencies, schools, extended-care facilities, voluntary health programs, industry, and private practices. The physical therapist may be found anywhere quality health care is needed. Increasingly, physical therapists are becoming involved in basic and clinical research, such as the academic community, either as full-time faculty members or as supervisors of clinical education, and as consultants in local, state, and federal health-planning activities.

Physical therapists function in compliance with the licensing laws and ethical principles that govern the practice of physical therapy. The steps to licensure as a physical therapist vary slightly from state to state, but all physical therapists graduate from an accredited curriculum of physical therapy that includes a specific period of clinical training. As physical therapy relates to the majority of medical specialties, the education program is broad in scope, including an emphasis on physical and social sciences. The physical therapist evaluates the patient's problem by testing such factors as range of joint motion, muscle strength, posture and gait, pulmonary function, sensory perception, orthotic and prosthetic fit, reflexes and muscle tone, and functional skills. Intervention procedures used may include ultrasound, superficial heat and cold, electrical stimulation, massage, traction, joint mobilization, biofeedback, therapeutic exercise, and assisted ambulation training.

As with all professionals in health fields, physical therapists are responsible for subscribing to a program of continuing education. Some therapists also develop the knowledge and skills of a specialist via continuing education and concentrated practice in one area, such as sports or pediatric therapy. A formal mechanism for certifying specialists is implemented by the national professional association, the American Physical Therapy Association.

The University of Washington program in physical therapy is accredited by the American Physical Therapy Association Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. For complete program details visit

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Admission Requirements

  1. Enrollment is limited to 44 students each year and admission is competitive.
  2. Application is restricted to those who are U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents by the autumn program entrance date.
  3. Applicants are required to submit scores from the General Test portion of the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE).
  4. Prior to the application deadline of December 15, the student must have met the following academic requirements:
    1. Minimum 3.00 GPA on all college-level courses
    2. Minimum 3.00 GPA on PT prerequisite courses
    3. Minimum 2.0 (C) grade on each PT prerequisite course
    4. Half (50%) of PT prerequisite courses completed.
      For a list of PT prerequisite course descriptions, see the program Website at
  5. Minimum requirements above must be maintained until program entrance and all prerequisite courses must be finished at that time. Applicants must complete a bachelor's degree before they start the program.
  6. Most clinical internship placement sites require potential trainees to undergo a criminal history background check for crimes against vulnerable populations. To ensure that all students offered positions in the PT program have no such history and therefore will be able to finish the clinical portion of the curriculum, the completion of a criminal background check process is required of applicants accepting admission.

Degree Requirements

157 credits, as follows:

  1. Year One
    1. Autumn Quarter: REHAB 504 (2), REHAB 509 (1), REHAB 517 (2), REHAB 521 (3), REHAB 522 (2), REHAB 541 (1), REHAB 544 (4)
    2. Winter Quarter: REHAB 506 (2), REHAB 517 (2), REHAB 533 (2), REHAB 542 (1), REHAB 545 (3), REHAB 551 (5)
    3. Spring Quarter: REHAB 507 (3), REHAB 517 (2), REHAB 525 (4), REHAB 533 (2), REHAB 536 (1), REHAB 543 (1), REHAB 548(3)
    4. Summer Quarter: REHAB 500 (4), REHAB 508 (4), REHAB 517 (2), REHAB 537 (2), REHAB 538 (2), REHAB 540 (2), REHAB 566 (1)
  2. Year Two
    1. Autumn Quarter: REHAB 510 (2), REHAB 511 (5), REHAB 523 (4), REHAB 547 (3), REHAB 566 (1)
    2. Winter Quarter: REHAB 502 (4), REHAB 512 (4), REHAB 527 (3), REHAB 529 (2)
    3. Spring Quarter: REHAB 502 (4), REHAB 503 (3), REHAB 513 (2), REHAB 566 (1), REHAB 569 (2)
    4. Summer Quarter: REHAB 505 (2), REHAB 514 (3), REHAB 535 (2), REHAB 566 (4), REHAB 567 (1), REHAB 801 (1)
  3. Year Three
    1. Autumn Quarter: REHAB 595 (10), REHAB 801 (4)
    2. Winter Quarter: REHAB 595 (10), REHAB 801 (4)
    3. Spring Quarter: REHAB 595 (10), REHAB 801 (3)

Prosthetics and Orthotics

Ann Yamane

The prosthetist-orthotist is a member of the rehabilitation health care team, which also includes physicians, surgeons, physical and occupational therapists, psychologists, vocational rehabilitation counselors, and other appropriate specialists. Team members work together with physically challenged individuals to enhance their daily life and increase their functional abilities.

The two groups of prosthetic-orthotic devices which can potentially enter into the rehabilitation of an individual are (1) prosthetic devices, which replace or substitute for a missing limb or part of a limb, and (2) orthotic devices, which help with the control of motion and the support of a weakened body segment.

Prothestics and Orthotics clinicians provide direct patient care and management. Clinicians work in conjunction with physicians, surgeons, and therapists to evaluate the prosthetic or orthotic needs of the patient. They design the appropriate device, supervise technicians who fabricate them, and evaluate the fit and functional use for each patient. To evaluate function, the prosthetist-orthotist must have a detailed knowledge of anatomy and kinesiology, joint range of motion, muscle strength, and human locomotion.

Before designing a prosthesis or orthosis, the prosthetist-orthotist examines a patient to find any conditions that might affect the future success of the orthosis or prosthesis. Following the evaluation, the prosthetist-orthotist obtains an impression of the affected segment along with the appropriate measurements. A technician fabricates the prosthesis or orthosis, and the prosthetist-orthotist fits the patient and makes changes as necessary.

BB808 Health Sciences Center
(206) 616-8586

The prosthetics and orthotics division offers the following program of study:

  • The Bachelor of Science degree with a major in prosthetics and orthotics
  • The Master of Prosthetics and Orthotics degree

Bachelor of Science

(Not currently accepting new students)

Suggested First- and Second-Year Courses: Courses fulfilling the general education requirements including proficiency and areas of knowledge (20 credits of VLPA, 20 credits of I&S) should be completed during the first two years prior to entry into the program. Prerequisite coursework (general biology, general physics, human anatomy and physiology, general chemistry, psychology) is also completed during this time. Suggested courses include: SOC 110, COM 201, COM 220, PSYCH 203, PSYCH 306, and courses using computer applications.

Admission Requirements

  1. Minimum 2.70 cumulative GPA
  2. Prior to admission, students must complete the following prerequisites with a minimum combined GPA of 2.70: BIOL 161-BIOL 162 or MICROM 301, MICROM 302, PHYS 114, PHYS 117, PHYS 115, PHYS 118, PSYCH 101, CHEM 120,B STR 301, BIOL 118, STAT 220.
  3. Completion of the University writing and reasoning requirements (5 credits of English composition and 5 credits of quantitative and symbolic reasoning with a minimum grade of 2.0; two additional writing courses totaling a minimum of 10 credits with a minimum grade of 0.7; and the College of Arts and Sciences Areas of Knowledge requirements (20 credits in Visual, Literary & Performing Arts, 20 credits in Individuals & Societies, and 20 credits in the Natural World). Courses listed above may apply to Areas of Knowledge requirements.

    Postbaccalaureate (fifth-year) students are exempt from the writing and reasoning requirements but not from the Areas of Knowledge requirements.

  4. Admission to the program is competitive based on scholastic achievement, written skills, references, and involvement in activities or work related to the health professions.
  5. Departmental Application Deadline: January 15 for entry autumn quarter.

Major Requirements

90 credits as follows:

  1. Courses: The following courses must be taken in the scheduled sequence beginning autumn quarter only at the University of Washington: REHAB 340, REHAB 341, REHAB 342, REHAB 343, REHAB 400, REHAB 401, REHAB 402, REHAB 403, REHAB 414, REHAB 420, REHAB 421, REHAB 423, REHAB 424, REHAB 427, REHAB 428, REHAB 430, REHAB 442, REHAB 444, REHAB 445, REHAB 451, REHAB 452, REHAB 448, REHAB 499, REHAB 504, REHAB 506, REHAB 509; CONJ 480.
  2. Grade Requirements: A student must maintain a minimum cumulative program GPA of 2.50, and "credit" grades in all courses that are graded credit/no credit, to maintain good standing in the program and be eligible for graduation. A 2.0 minimum grade is required in each course. A grade below 2.0 in a required course must be repeated at the next offering with a minimum grade of 2.0 received in the repeated course.
  3. Continuation Policy: If at any point the cumulative GPA in the curriculum courses falls below 2.50, the student is placed on academic probation. In order to be removed from probation, the student must achieve a cumulative GPA of 2.50 by the end of two consecutive quarters, or within a time frame designated by the Advisory and Evaluation Committee. If a student is unable to remove his or her probation status, he or she is subject to dismissal from the program.

Master of Prosthetics and Orthotics

Admission Requirements

  1. Bachelor's degree in any major from a regionally accredited U.S. college or university
  2. Minimum 3.00 cumulative GPA
  3. Prior to the start of the program, all prerequisites must be completed. These include one course each in the areas of life science, statistics, and chemistry; and a two-course series in the areas of anatomy & physiology and physics, and two courses in psychology (to include a general psych course as well as either a developmental or abnormal psych course). Labs must be taken with all appropriate courses.
  4. Minimum cumulative prerequisite GPA of 3.0. No single course can be graded less than 2.0. Grades lower than 2.0 are not accepted.
  5. GRE general test scores. Test must be taken within the past five years.
  6. Volunteer or work experience in a prosthetics-orthotics clinic is strongly encouraged

Admission to the program is competitive based on scholastic achievement, written skills, references, and involvement in activities or work related to the health professions.

See program website for complete details on admissions requirements.

International applicants must also meet several requirements in addition to those required of U.S. applicants in order to be admitted to the University of Washington Graduate School. Consult the FAQs on the UW Graduate School website for more information.

Major Requirements

112 credits as follows:

  1. Courses: The following courses must be satisfactorily completed in a specific sequence beginning autumn quarter of entry year and only at the University of Washington: REHAB 522, REHAB 544, REHAB 541, REHAB 504, REHAB 509, RHB PO 511, RHB PO 501, REHAB 533, REHAB 545, REHAB 542, REHAB 551, REHAB 506, RHB PO 515, REHAB 534, REHAB 548, REHAB 543, RHB PO 512, RHB PO 581, RHB PO 541, RHB PO 502, RHB PO 521, RHB PO 522, RHB PO 523, REHAB 580, RHB PO 561, REHAB 510, RHB PO 524, RHB PO 525, RHB PO 526, RHB PO 527, RHB PO 582, RHB PO 562, RHB PO 528, RHB PO 529, RHB PO 583, RHB PO 563, RHB PO 530, RHB PO 531, RHB PO 532, RHB PO 584, RHB PO 564.
  2. Grade Requirements: A student must maintain a minimum cumulative program GPA of 3.00, and "credit" grades in all courses that are graded credit/no credit, to maintain good standing in the program and be eligible for graduation.
  3. Continuation Policy: If at any point the cumulative GPA in the curriculum courses falls below 2.70, the student is placed on academic probation. In order to be removed from probation, the student must achieve a cumulative GPA of 3.00 by the end of two consecutive quarters, or within a time frame designated by the Advisory and Evaluation Committee. If a student is unable to remove his or her probation status, he or she is subject to dismissal from the program.

Student Outcomes and Opportunities

  • Learning Objectives and Expected Outcomes: The prosthetics-orthotics degree is recognized as a broad, undifferentiated degree requiring the acquisition of general knowledge and basic skills in applicable domains of medicine. The educational process of a prosthetist-orthotist includes the assimilation of knowledge, acquisition of technical skills, and development of judgment through patient care experiences in preparation for independent analysis and problem solving required in clinical practice. Prosthetists and orthotists are employed in private practices and hospitals. There are also a limited number of opportunities in research positions throughout the country.

    Upon successful completion of the prosthetics and orthotics program, the student has learned the skills necessary to function as an entry-level resident in prosthetics-orthotics, and is awarded a Master of Prosthetics and Orthotics degree by the University of Washington School of Medicine. The practitioner program is accredited through the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), 1361 Park Street, Clearwater FL 33756, (727) 210-2350 (phone), (727) 210-2354 (fax),

    The degree in prosthetics-orthotics gives the student eligibility to enter a one-year clinical residency for each discipline at a National Commission on Orthotics and Prosthetics Education (NCOPE) approved site. This residency requirement must be completed for eligibility to apply for the National Certification Boards administered by the American Board for Certification in Orthotics and Prosthetics, Inc. (ABCOP).

    National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education
    330 John Carlyle Street, Suite 200
    Alexandria, VA 22314
    phone: (703) 836-7114

    American Board for Certification in Orthotics and Prosthetics, Inc.
    330 John Carlyle Street, Suite 210
    Alexandria, VA 22314
    phone: (703) 836-7114
    fax: (703) 836-0838

  • Instructional and Research Facilities: Didactic and patient clinical instruction occurs in the eighth-floor classroom areas in the "BB" wing of the Health Sciences Building. A fabrication laboratory is located on the eighth floor and accommodates the technical laboratory components of the curriculum.
  • Students are placed throughout the curriculum in eighteen facilities in the surrounding Seattle area for their required hours of clinical experience.

Post-Professional Programs

Master of Science in Rehabilitation Science

The Master of Science (MS) in Rehabilitation Science program is dedicated to educating rehabilitation professionals to assume leadership roles as advanced clinicians, clinical researchers, educators, and/or administrators. We foster the development of critical thinking and problem solving related to rehabilitation science and we are committed to educational excellence, high ethical standards, and respect for diversity. This is intended to be a small program designed to address individual needs, thus, no recruitment targets have been set. The program is designed for rehabilitation professionals who 1) wish to pursue advanced graduate studies to enhance their professional growth but do not wish to pursue a PhD or 2) are in the PhD Program in Rehabilitation Science and for some reason are unable to complete the PhD program.

MS Program Purpose and Goals

The overall program outcome of the Master of Science degree is to prepare rehabilitation professionals to serve as advanced clinicians, clinical researchers, educators, and/or administrators. In order to accomplish this outcome, there are four major program goals:

  1. Discuss models of disability and theories and frameworks relating to rehabilitation science.
  2. Design and conduct research related to rehabilitation science, and report the results in written and oral form appropriate for dissemination to other professionals and consumers.
  3. Design, conduct, and evaluate instruction as it pertains to classroom teaching and continuing education.
  4. Exhibit the capacity to assume leadership roles in the studentís area of expertise in rehabilitation.

Doctor of Philosophy in Rehabilitation Science

Deborah Kartin

Rehabilitation science is an interdisciplinary field that focuses on human function and disability. Basic and applied research from health sciences, social sciences, engineering, and related fields is directed toward (1) enhancing physical and psychosocial functioning, participation in life situations, and quality of life of people with disabilities; and (2) informing relevant social and healthcare policy.

The program targets students from diverse backgrounds in rehabilitation-related fields including occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech and language pathology, rehabilitation counseling, medicine, nursing, prosthetics and orthotics, and engineering.

The goal of the PhD program in rehabilitation science is to prepare researchers, educators, and leaders in the area of rehabilitation science to contribute to the development of rehabilitation practice, research, and policy. Graduates of the PhD program are prepared as researchers, educators, and leaders in the field of rehabilitation science, who may work in academic institutions, service delivery systems (e.g., hospitals, public schools), government agencies, and the private sector. These individuals are prepared to address research, education, service delivery, and policy issues from an interdisciplinary perspective. Following are three overarching outcomes for graduates of this program.

  1. Demonstrate advanced knowledge and productivity in rehabilitation science specific to research, education, service delivery, and/or policy.
  2. Demonstrate leadership in interdisciplinary collaboration for the purpose of optimizing research, education, service delivery, and/or policy.
  3. Generate and extend knowledge that is innovative and rigorously tested within a focused area of rehabilitation science.

Admission Requirements

  1. Baccalaureate degree from a college or university of recognized rank.
  2. Official Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test Scores.
  3. Copy of current professional certification/licensure to practice (as appropriate).
  4. Recent sample of scholarly writing. This may include a published or unpublished manuscript such as in-depth literature review in a focused area; a research report; or a concept analysis.
  5. Letters of recommendation from three persons knowledgeable about the individual's potential for doctoral-level work in rehabilitation science.
  6. Letter of application in response to specific questions listed on the application related to the pursuit of doctoral studies.
  7. Resume/CV.

Degree Requirements

100 credits minimum, as follows:

Courses: Core course series (21 credits), coursework and practicum experiences in teaching (minimum of 5 credits), and coursework in research methods (minimum of 18 credits). Relative to the latter, credit requirements may be partially met through independent study. In addition, each student must complete three cognates (minimum of 6 credits each) specific to the student's goals. The student's committee and the core faculty in the rehabilitation science doctoral program must approve the entire course of study.

General requirements: In addition to meeting all requirements of the UW Graduate School, all students are expected to meet the following general requirements.

  1. Minimum 3.00 cumulative and quarterly GPA.
  2. 100 credits minimum, of which 30 are dissertation credits.
  3. Completion of at least one teaching practicum (3-credit minimum).
  4. Satisfactory completion of a Research and Scientific Inquiry Day manuscript and presentation.
  5. Satisfactory completion of general examinations.
  6. Dissertation.
  7. Final examination.

For more information on the PhD program in Rehabilitation Science, visit the program's website at