White Book on Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (PRM) in Europe. Chapter 4. History of the specialty: where PRM comes from

European Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine Bodies Alliance, Stefano Negrini

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In the context of the White Book of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (PRM) in Europe, this paper deals with the history of the PRM medical specialty. The specialty evolved in different European countries, and sometimes also into the single countries, from different medical streams that finally joined. These included among others: balneology, gymnastic, use of physical agents (water, heat, cold, massage, joint manipulations, physical exercise, etc.). Another important role has been played by the increasing number of people experiencing or likely to experience disability due to improvement of medicine and consequent survivals from wars, accidents and/or big infective epidemics (like polio); these evolutions happened in strict relationship with other specialties like cardiology, neurology, orthopaedics, pneumology, rheumatology, traumatology, creating a knowledge transversal to all of them. Consequently, the PRM specialty has been gradually introduced in the different European countries, however with no uniformity. Subsequently, European Organizations were created for its diffusion and coordination at the level of medical competences and patient care as well as medical teaching and research: The European Federation of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation - later European Society (ESPRM), The Académie Médicale Européenne de Médecine de Réadaptation (EARME), The PRM Section of the European Union of Medical Specialists and the European College of PRM (served by the UEMS-PRM Board), were created and work today regarding these general aims. Nowadays a uniform definition of the specialty exists in Europe, which is concordant with the internationally accepted description of PRM (based on the ICF-model). Moreover, research in PRM has been mainly improved during recent decades in Europe due to some external as well as internal scientific influences, thus increasing its scientific importance, together with a parallel increase in rehabilitation journals, many of them indexed and some with impact factor (Cr, EJPRM, JRM, among others), as well as a parallel increase in scientific congresses and courses. Last but not least, the recent creation of the Cochrane Rehabilitation field will also give a great boost to this primary medical specialty, as well as the discovery on new physical agents and technologies that diminish activity limitation and participation restriction of disable persons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-197
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


  • Books
  • Clinical Competence
  • Disabled Persons/rehabilitation
  • Education, Medical
  • Europe
  • Humans
  • Journal Impact Factor
  • Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine/education


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