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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, Master of Prosthetics and Orthotics, and a PhD in rehabilitation science.

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 help 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 as high quality of life as 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) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) located at 4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD, 20814-3449. ACOTE's telephone number, c/o AOTA, is (301) 652-2682 and its web address is 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 therapists. The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) is the certifying agency responsible for development and implementation of this examination. All states currently require state licensure in order to practice.

Master of Occupational Therapy

Admission Requirements

  1. Bachelor's degree in any major and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) taken within the past five years. Seven prerequisite courses as shown below. Volunteer or work experience in at least two practice areas of occupational therapy. Admission is once a year for entry autumn quarter; applications are due November 1.
  2. Specific prerequisite courses at the UW. (Students who have attended schools other than the UW must take comparable courses.)
    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. Requirements to Apply: Completion of five prerequisite courses, including three courses in the natural sciences; 3.00 minimum GPA in prerequisite courses with no single course graded less than 2.7. Applicants must have a cumulative college-level grade point average of at least a 3.00 (B) to be considered for admission. This includes all baccalaureate and post-baccalaureate courses. Admission is based on academic ability, communication skills, and understanding and experience in occupational therapy. Detailed program requirements and selection process information are available by consulting the program's website at, by emailing, or by calling (206) 598-5764.

Degree Requirements

Courses: To be completed in the scheduled sequence, beginning autumn quarter only, at the UW: REHAB 510, REHAB 520, REHAB 522, REHAB 533, REHAB 541, REHAB 542, REHAB 543, REHAB 544, REHAB 545, REHAB 548, REHAB 551, REHAB 564, 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.

GPA Requirement: cumulative 3.00 GPA 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 the GPA to 3.00 by the end of two subsequent quarters. Students unable to remove their probation status are 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

Interim Head
Sarah Westcot McCoy

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 healthcare 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 November 1, 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 are 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, REHAB 509, REHAB 517, REHAB 521, REHAB 522, REHAB 541, REHAB 544
    2. Winter Quarter: REHAB 506, REHAB 517, REHAB 533, REHAB 542, REHAB 545, REHAB 551
    3. Spring Quarter: REHAB 507, REHAB 517, REHAB 525, REHAB 533, REHAB 536, REHAB 543, REHAB 548
    4. Summer Quarter: REHAB 500, REHAB 508, REHAB 517, REHAB 537, REHAB 538, REHAB 540
  2. Year Two
    1. Autumn Quarter: REHAB 510, REHAB 511, REHAB 523, REHAB 547, REHAB 566
    2. Winter Quarter: REHAB 502, REHAB 512, REHAB 527, REHAB 529
    3. Spring Quarter: REHAB 502, REHAB 503, REHAB 531, REHAB 566, REHAB 569
    4. Summer Quarter: REHAB 505, REHAB 514, REHAB 535, REHAB 515, REHAB 567, REHAB 801
  3. Year Three
    1. Autumn Quarter: REHAB 595, REHAB 801
    2. Winter Quarter: REHAB 595, REHAB 801
    3. Spring Quarter: REHAB 595, REHAB 801

Prosthetics and Orthotics

Division Director
Ann Yamane

The prosthetist-orthotist is a member of the rehabilitation healthcare team, which also includes physicians, surgeons, physical and occupational therapists, psychologists, vocational rehabilitation counselors, and other appropriate specialists. The interdisciplinary rehab team works with physically challenged individuals to increase their functional abilities, enhance their daily life, and help them to participate in activities they enjoy.

Certified Prosthetists Orthotists (CPOs) provide direct patient care and management. CPOs work in conjunction with physicians, surgeons, and therapists to evaluate the prosthetic or orthotic needs of the patient. Prostheses replace or substitute for a missing limb or part of a limb, and orthoses help with the control of motion and the support of a weakened body segment. Before designing a specific device, the prosthetist-orthotist examines a patient to find any conditions that might affect the future success of that device. 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 assesses the fit and function of the device and follows up with the patient. as necessary. To evaluate the fit and function, the prosthetist-orthotist must have a detailed knowledge of anatomy and kinesiology, joint range of motion, muscle strength, human locomotion, material science, and the human-device interaction.

Graduate Program Coordintor
BB808 Health Sciences Center
(206) 543-6763

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

  • The Master of Prosthetics and Orthotics degree

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, including one course each in the areas of biology* (or other life science), statistics, and chemistry*; a two-course series in the areas of (1) anatomy and physiology and (2) physics*, and two courses in psychology (to include a general psychology course as well as either a developmental or abnormal psychology course). Laboratories must be taken with courses marked with an asterisk*.
  4. Minimum 3.00 cumulative prerequisite GPA. No single course 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
  7. Admission is competitive based on scholastic achievement, written skills, references, and involvement in activities or experiences related to the health professions.
  8. Admission occurs once a year for entry autumn quarter; applications are evaluated starting November 1.
  9. International applicants must meet several requirements in addition to those required of U.S. applicants to be admitted to the UW Graduate School. Consult the FAQs on the UW Graduate School website for more information.

See program website for complete details on admissions requirements.

Degree Requirements

112 credits as follows:

  1. Courses: To be satisfactorily completed in a specific sequence beginning autumn quarter of entry year, and only at the UW: 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 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 581, 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 534, RHB PO 558, RHB PO 584, RHB PO 564.
  2. Grade Requirements: A student must maintain a minimum 3.00 cumulative program GPA, and receive "credit" grades in all courses graded credit/no credit only, 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.

Post-Professional Programs

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 for 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 future researchers, educators, and leaders in the area of rehabilitation science. Graduates contribute to the field of rehabilitation science, working in settings such as academic and research 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.

  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. Copy of current professional certification/licensure to practice (as appropriate)
  3. Letters of recommendation from three persons knowledgeable about the individual's potential for doctoral-level work in rehabilitation science
  4. Letter of application
  5. Resume/CV
  6. Official university transcripts
  7. Official Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test Scores

Degree Requirements

100 credits minimum, as follows:

Core course series (21 credits): coursework and practicum experiences in teaching (minimum 5 credits), and coursework in statistics and research methods (minimum 18 credits). In addition, each student must complete three cognates (minimum 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 27 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