Basic information for topics, such as "What is it?" and "How many people are affected?" is available in the Topic Information section. In addition, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that are specific to a certain topic are answered in this section.
- What is "plasticity"? How is plasticity related to rehabilitation medicine?
- How do I find an accredited rehabilitation medicine facility?
- How do I find a rehabilitation medicine specialist?
In biology, plasticity (pronounced pla-STIS-i-tee) is a healing process in which the body reorganizes in response to changes in the environment. For example, the cells in our brains constantly form new connections.
Scientists used to believe that people with brain injury were not able to recover or relearn lost functions and that the brain was not capable of plasticity. Scientists have found that training—such as physical therapy—can help harness the brain's natural plasticity and help people with brain injuries regain lost function by stimulating new connections between brain cells. Researchers now believe the brain has a significant amount of plasticity and that certain rehabilitation methods can harness this ability.
Using techniques that harness or enhance the body's natural plasticity is an important aspect of rehabilitation medicine. The NICHD supports research on the biology of plasticity and research to develop new rehabilitation approaches that engage and enhance human plasticity and aid in restoring function.
The Joint Commission, which evaluates and accredits over 20,000 health care organizations in the United States, offers a search engine to locate accredited and certified facilities by city and state, by name, by zip code, or type of care . The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) search engine finds facilities within and outside the United States by location, program type, company name, or keyword.
Several professional organizations provide online searchable directories of rehabilitation specialists or information about procedures used in rehabilitation medicine and other resources, including:
- American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons
- American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists
- American Association of Neurological Surgeons
- American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
- American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine
- American Occupational Therapy Association
- American Orthotic Prosthetic Association
- American Physical Therapy Association
- American Society of Neuroradiology
- American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
- Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities
- Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America
Please note that inclusion in this list is not an endorsement from the NICHD, NIH, or HHS. Also, keep in mind that some of these organizations do not provide information geared toward non-members or to those without medical training.