Who Are the Rehab Specialists?

Brain Injury Association of Arizona
Who Are the Rehab Specialists?

Glossary of Rehabilitation Professionals


professionals who specialize in evaluating and treating people with hearing loss. Audiologists treat people who have hearing, balance, and related problems. Audiologists dispense and fit hearing aids, administer tests of balance to evaluate dizziness, and provide hearing rehabilitation training.

Case Managers

as an advocate for the patient, these professionals who coordinate the goals of the client, family and rehabilitation staff. Case managers oversee the overall treatment plan by coordinating the delivery of services and facilitating the client's access to appropriate medical, rehabilitation and support programs.


diagnose and treat patients whose health problems are associated with the body's muscular, nervous, and skeletal systems. The chiropractic approach to health care is holistic, stressing the patient's overall well being. Chiropractors use natural, drugless, non-surgical health treatments, and rely on the body's inherent recuperative abilities.

Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapists

teach survivors how to learn by aiding persons in the management of specific problems in perception, memory, thinking and problem solving. The goal is to help survivors identify techniques to improve their ability to remember ideas. Therapists provide interventions based on an assessment and knowledge of the individual's brain-behavior deficits. Skills are practiced and strategies are taught to help improve function and/or compensate for remaining deficits.

Dietitians and Nutritionists

evaluate nutritional needs and supervise the preparation and serving of meals. They help prevent and treat illnesses by promoting healthy eating habits, scientifically evaluating clients' diets, and suggesting diet modifications.

Life Care Planners

professionals who direct the process of life care planning, which represents a consistent methodology for analyzing the needs dictated by the onset of a disability. It also takes into consideration the individual needs of the person with a disability and their family.


physicians with specialty training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system. Neurologists can recommend surgical treatment, but do not perform surgery.


psychologists who specializes in evaluating brain/behavior relationships, planning training programs to help the survivor of brain injury return to normal functioning and recommending alternative cognitive and behavioral strategies to minimize the effects of brain injury.


physicians who specialize in performing surgical treatments of the brain or nervous system. Neurosurgeons provide the operative and non-operative management (i.e.: prevention, diagnosis, evaluation, treatment, critical care and rehabilitation) of neurological disorders.

Occupational Therapists

work with individuals who have conditions that are mentally, physically, developmentally, or emotionally disabling, and help them to develop, recover, or maintain daily living and work skills. They not only help clients improve basic motor functions and reasoning abilities, but also compensate for permanent loss of function. Their goal is to help clients have independent, productive, and satisfying lives.


physicians who specialize in the medical and surgical care of the eyes and visual system and in the prevention of eye disease and injury. Ophthalmologists are medically trained specialists who can deliver total eye care: primary, secondary and tertiary (i.e. vision services, contact lenses, eye examinations, medical eye care and surgical eye care). They can also diagnose general diseases of the body and treat ocular manifestations of systemic diseases.


examine people's eyes to diagnose vision problems and eye diseases. They use instruments and observation to examine eye health and to test patients' visual acuity, depth and color perception, and their ability to focus and coordinate the eyes. Optometrists prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses, and provide vision therapy and low vision rehabilitation. They use drugs for diagnosis of vision problems and prescribe drugs to treat some eye diseases. Optometrists are specifically educated and trained by an accredited optometry college in a four year course, but have not attended medical school. They often provide pre- and post-operative care to eye surgery patients.


physicians who specialize in physical medicine and rehabilitation, these medical doctors are trained in both neurology and orthopedics. These specialists focus on restoring function to people. Physiatrists creatively employ physical agents as well as other medical therapeutics to help in the healing and rehabilitation of a patient. Treatment involves the whole person and addresses the physical, emotional and social needs that must be satisfied to successfully restore the patient's quality of life to its maximum potential.

Physical Therapists

focus on restoring motor function, strengthening muscles, and improving coordination, balance, endurance and the movement of joints. They restore, maintain, and promote overall fitness and health. They also determine patients' ability to be independent and reintegrate into the community or workplace after injury or illness. Next, they develop treatment plans describing the treatment strategy, its purpose, and the anticipated outcome.


physicians who specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of emotional or behavioral problems. Extensive medical training enables the psychiatrist to understand the body's functions and the complex relationship between emotional illness and other medical illnesses. Psychiatrists often give medications to help assist people in dealing with intense emotions or behavior.


professional specializing in counseling, including adjustment to disability. Psychologists develop standardized assessment tools to measure behavior and therapeutic interventions to help people change their behavior and improve their ability to function. They may provide individual or group psychotherapy for the purpose of cognitive retraining, management of behavior and the development of coping skills by the patient/client and members of the family.

Recreational Therapists

provide treatment services and recreation activities to individuals with illnesses or disabling conditions. They use a variety of techniques to treat or maintain the physical, mental, and emotional well being of clients. They help individuals recover their basic motor functioning and reasoning abilities, build confidence, socialize more effectively thus allowing them to be more independent, and reduce or eliminate the effects of illness or disability. Their focus is to help integrate people with disabilities into the community by helping them use community resources and recreational activities.

Rehabilitation Counselors

specialists in social and vocational issues who helps the client develop the skills and aptitudes necessary for return to productive activity in the community. Rehabilitation counselors help people deal with the personal, social, and vocational effects of their disabilities. They evaluate the strengths and limitations of individuals, provide personal and vocational counseling, and may arrange for medical care, vocational training, and job placement. They also work toward increasing the client's capacity to live independently.

Respiratory Therapists

evaluate, treat, and care for clients with breathing disorders.

Social Workers

help people deal with their relationships with others; solve their personal, family, and community problems; help clients grow and develop as they learn to cope with or shape the social and environmental forces affecting daily life.

Special Education Teachers

use various techniques to promote learning. Teaching methods can include individualized instruction, problem-solving assignments, and group or individual work. Special education teachers develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for each special education student. The IEP sets personalized goals for each student and is tailored to a student's individual learning style and ability.

Speech/Language Pathologists

direct, diagnose, and conduct programs to improve communicative skills related to speech and language problems. They are involved in evaluating and teaching speech, writing, reading, and expression skills aimed at both comprehension and communication. For a person with brain injury, the speech/language pathologist may work on attention, organization, planning, and sequencing. They also specialize in teaching memory strategies (a classic problem in traumatic brain injury).


physicians who specialize in the treatment of problems occurring in the male and female urinary tract and the male reproductive organs.

Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors

identify skills, aptitudes, and abilities that will help restore the client to the world of work. They will help support the client by setting up job coaching, job strategies, and school strategies. The counselor will locate jobs, school programs, and volunteer sites that best match the individual's needs.

Posted on BrainLine August 20, 2008

From the Brain Injury Association of Arizona. Reprinted with permission. www.biaaz.org.


please add Cranial Sacral Therapist and Functional Neurology

Another really helpful therapy is a vascular, vestibular, cranial sacral osteopathic therapy, coming from the work of Jean Pierre Barrall.

rehabilitation optometrists use lenses, prisms, filters, sector occuders and vision rehabilitation therapy to assist with recovery when appropriate

Don't forget Orientation and Mobility Specialists, Vision Rehabilitation Counselors and Teachers of the Blnd and Visually Impaired!!!

Don't forget the Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurses, we play a major role in the rehabilitation process.
Nurses are also rehab specialists.

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