Who Are the Rehab Specialists?

Brain Injury Association of Arizona
Who Are the Rehab Specialists?

Glossary of Rehabilitation Professionals


Audiologists evaluate and treat people with hearing loss. Treating 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

Case Managers advocate for the patient by coordinating 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.s.


Chiropractors are physicians who 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

Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapists teach survivors how to learn by helping them with 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

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

Life Care Planners 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.


Neurologists are physicians who diagnose, treat, and manage disorders of the brain and nervous system. Neurologists can recommend surgical treatment, but do not perform surgery.


Neuro-Psychologists evaluate brain-behavior relationships. They plan training programs to help the survivor return to normal functioning and recommend alternative cognitive and behavioral strategies to minimize the effects of brain injury.


Neurosurgeons are physicians who perform surgical treatments of the brain or nervous system. They provide the operative and non-operative management (prevention, diagnosis, evaluation, treatment, critical care and rehabilitation) of brain-related and nervous system-related disorders.

Occupational Therapists

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


Ophthalmologists are 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 such as 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.


Optometrists 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.


Physiatrists are physicians who specialize in physical medicine and rehabilitation. Trained in both neurology and orthopedics, they 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

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. Physical therapists develop treatment plans that describe the treatment strategy, its purpose, and the anticipated outcome.


Psychiatrists are 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.


Psychologists provide counseling, and help survivors adjust to the 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

Recreational Therapists provide treatment services and recreation activities using 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. Recreational therapists help integrate people with disabilities into the community by helping them use community resources and recreational activities.

Rehabilitation Counselors

Rehabilitation Counselors are specialists in social and vocational issues. They help clients develop the skills and aptitudes necessary to 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

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

Social Workers

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

Special Education Teachers

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

Speech and 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 and language pathologist may work on attention, organization, planning, and sequencing. They also specialize in teaching memory strategies (a classic problem in traumatic brain injury).


Urologists are physicians who treat problems occurring in the male and female urinary tract and the male reproductive organs.

Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors

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 January 23, 2018.

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

Comments (9)

Please remember, we are not able to give medical or legal advice. If you have medical concerns, please consult your doctor. All posted comments are the views and opinions of the poster only.

One of the vital rehab professionals are the prosthetists and orthotists but in the list of this professionals the profession is not mentioned, please add it to complete the list. Thank you

Thank you so much for all of this great information! It is so helpful to be made aware of the multitude of resources and health care professionals we can all benefit from!

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.

Yes, you are!! saw the importance when my 48 yo niece sustained TBI and was admitted to rehab.

Nurses are also rehab specialists.