Glossary of PRM terms


Activity According to ICF is the execution of a task or action by an individual
Activity limitations According to ICF are difficulties an individual may have in executing activities.
Acute phase Refers to the period during an acute hospital admission following injury or illness, or after complex medical treatment or its complications. It can also apply to an acute event in a person with an established disability.
Adapted physical activity Is defined as a cross disciplinary body of knowledge directed towards the identification and solution of individual differences in physical activity. It is a service delivery profession and an academic field of study which supports an attitude of acceptance of individual differences, advocates enhancing access to active lifestyles and sport, and promotes innovation and cooperative service delivery and empowerment systems. Adapted Physical Activity includes, but is not limited to, physical education, sport, recreation, and rehabilitation.
Applied research Using existing knowledge, is directed towards specific goals such as the development of a new medication, a new medical device, or a new rehabilitation procedure
Aquatic therapy Generic term that refers to all therapies that can be performed through water, regardless of the composition of this

The branch of medical science concerned with the study of the therapeutic use of natural mineral waters, steam, gases and peloids. This use is called Balneotherapy and includes not only the application of baths but also other modalities such as drinking cures, inhalation and other complementary techniques (physical agents, environmental factors / Climatotherapy) giving it a character of a holistic and complex therapy approach.

Barriers Environmental factors that reduce functioning / increase disability
Basic research (fundamental or pure research) Is knowledge for knowledge, the study of a biomedical phenomena to have a full understanding of it.
Bed-blocker Patient who has been approved for discharge from inpatient care, but has no alternative facility to which he or she can go, thus blocking use of that bed by other patients, especially by those with more acute disease or higher needs
Bibliomed it is a Spanish Virtual Medical Library
Biomedical research Involves the investigation of the biological process, the causes of diseases, their medical diagnosis, the evaluation of their consequences on functioning, disability and health at an individual and a societal level. Biomedical research evaluates also the effects of the PRM interventions at all these levels.
Biopsychosocial model It is a health model developed in contrast to the widely applied biomedical one. It states that health and illness are determined by a dynamic interaction between biological (genetic, biochemical, etc.), psychological (mood, personality, behaviour, etc.) and social factors (cultural, familial, socioeconomic, medical, etc.). This also expresses the view that disease outcome is attributable to this complex interaction.
Body functions According to ICF are physiological functions of body systems (including psychological functions).
Body structures According to ICF are anatomical parts of the body such as organs, limbs and their components.
Capacity According to ICF it is a qualifier that describes an individual’s ability to execute a task or an action. This construct indicates the highest probable level of functioning of a person in a given domain at a given moment.
Chiropractic School and current of manual therapy described by Palmer in the 19th century by which small joint adjustments are performed in the body. It etymologically means „practice by hands“.
Clinical impact research Is a new concept defined as a research field aiming to assess what are the impacts of healthcare and public health interventions targeted to persons with disabilities.
Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) Is a non-profit organization. The mission is to define best practice in the ethics of publishing.
Compensatory processes Processes to adapt to the new (acquired) health condition using mechanisms based on other body structures/functions, behavioural changes and/or assistive devices (prosthesis, orthosis or technical aids)
Contextual factors Circumstances that may influence our life and health. Among contextual factors are external environmental factors and internal personal factors
Continuing Professional Development The process of tracking and documenting the skills, knowledge and experience gained (by the PRM physician), both formally and informally during work experience, beyond any initial training.
Continuous Medical Education Educational activities aimed at maintaining, developing or increasing the knowledge, skills and professional performance that the PRM physician uses when providing health services.
Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL) Is an index of English-language and selected other-language journal articles about nursing, allied health, biomedicine and healthcare.
Current Contents Is a rapid alerting service database from the Institute for Scientific Information, now part of Thomson Reuters that is published online and in several different printed subject sections.
Disability Is a umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions that may be defined as the problem a person has performing the actions that he or she needs and wants to do, because of how an underlying health condition – a disease, injury or even ageing – affects his or her performance in his or her actual environment.
Disease A disorder of structure or function that produces specific symptoms or that affects a specific location and is not simply a direct result of physical injury
Environmental factors Among contextual factors are the external factors (for example, social attitudes, architectural characteristics, legal and social structures, as well as climate, terrain and so forth)
European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 Strategy to increase the participation of people with disabilities in society and the economy, and enable them to fully exercise their rights
European Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine Bodies The four European Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine Organizations: European Academy of Rehabilitation Medicine (EARM), European Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (ESPRM), European Union of Medical Specialists PRM Section (UEMS-PRM Section) and European PRM College (served by UEMS-PRM Board)
Extracorporeal shock waves therapy (ESWT)

Non-invasive surgical procedure that use abrupt, high amplitude pulses of mechanical energy, similar to soundwaves, generated by an electromagnetic coil or a spark in water to encourage the healing of some physical disorders

(“Extracorporeal” means that the shockwaves are generated externally to the body and transmitted from a pad through the skin).

Facilitators Environmental factors that improve functioning / increase disability
Functional assessment Is the determination of a person’s level of function and ability to perform everyday tasks and requirements of living.
Function-centred Any health care intervention aimed at improving/recovering body functions
Functioning All that human bodies do and the actions that people perform. In the ICF, functioning is operationalised in terms of functioning domains, and these domains are partitioned into the dimensions of Body Functions and Structures, Activities and Participation. Functioning is a umbrella term describing the interaction between a person with a health condition and his or her environment (defined in the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health, WHO 2001)
Goal-directed (or goal-oriented or task-oriented) It is said for exercises based on the practice of purposeful motor acts
Habilitation Within PRM this term refers to the part of Rehabilitation dealing with growing age, when not all functions have been developed and when consequently diseases and impairments can negatively impact on the correct development of some otherwise normal functions
Health condition The situation that interferes with health (diseases, disorders and injuries). In ICF disability and functioning are viewed as outcomes of interactions between health conditions (diseases, disorders and injuries) and contextual factors.
Holism The treating of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the symptoms of a disease. In PRM it is not used to justify scientifically unproven treatments, since: PRM is a primary medical specialty totally based on evidence
Impairments According to ICF are problems in body function or structure such as a significant deviation or loss.
Implementation research Evaluate health interventions at home, in “real world” settings
Inter disciplinary research Is performed within teams including different disciplines or bodies of specialized knowledge
Learning processes In PRM, new motor and behavioural strategies to be learned to counter-act disability and improve functioning in a specific health condition.
Lived health Is a person’s level of functioning in his or her current environment and depends both on the person’s environment and biological health.
Long-term phase Refers to the long-term period following the post-acute phase for people who are experiencing chronic disease and long-term disabilities or difficulties in functioning, when the situation is stabilized; emphasis lays on maintenance and secondary prevention.
Manual medicine Discipline that incorporates all the valid methods of diagnosis, assessment and treatment that a duly qualified physician can carry out using preferably his expert hands. It includes both soft tissue and structural techniques.
Mechanotherapy Modality of physical treatment devised by Zander in the 19th century and consisting of the performance of therapeutic exercise through the use of mechanical devices.
Medical diagnosis The classical process of diagnosis by Medical Doctors.
MEDLINE (Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System Online, or MEDLARS Online) is a bibliographic database of life sciences and biomedical information.
Collaborative team action See below Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine team
Multimodal approach Due to the focus on impairment, activity limitations and participation restrictions, the attention to personal factors and environmental factors, and the multi-professional team, the approach in PRM is rarely based on a single treatment. In PRM patients are usually treated with a broad range of therapies, provided by a broad range of health professionals. These can include, among others, exercise therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, neuropsychological treatments, behavioural therapies, physical therapies, manual therapies. Each patient is treated with a unique approach, according to his disease, impairments, activity limitations, participation restrictions, environmental and personal factors, in a totally multimodal and individualised approach.
Multi-professional It is said of the rehabilitation team, whose members typically belong to different professional profiles (e.g. physiotherapists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, etc.).
Multi-professional team See below Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine team
Neuroplasticity (or brain plasticity) It is used to describe the life-long experience-driven remodelling of brain networks, especially occurring during childhood and immediately after a brain lesion.
Osteopathy School and current of manual therapy created by Still in the 19th century that evaluates and treats different physical disorders through joint adjustments. It etymologically means „the way of the bones“.
Participation According to ICF is involvement in a life situation.
Participation restrictions According to ICF are problems an individual may experience in involvement in life situations.
Patient classification system Is a system to classify patients in homogeneous groups according to their needs of care and related financing.
Patient-centred Any health care intervention aimed at improving the overall functioning /well-being of an individual
Peer counsellor Is a person, with a health or disability status equal to that of the patient, who provides counselling including emotional and informational assistance and encouragement.
Performance According to ICF it is a qualifier that describes what an individual does in his or her current environment. Since the current environment always includes the overall societal context, performance can also be understood as “involvement in a life situation” or “the lived experience” of people in their actual context.
Performance What an individual does in his or her current environment. (Since the current environment always includes the overall societal context, performance can also be understood as “involvement in a life situation” or “the lived experience” of people in their actual context).
Personal factors Among contextual factors are the internal factors which include gender, age, coping styles, social background, education, profession, past and current experience, overall behaviour pattern, character and other factors that influence how disability is experienced by the individual.
Physical agent

A form or a mean of physical energy application to living tissues in a systematic manner to alter physiologic processes, in conjunction with or for therapeutic purposes. Physical agents include different modalities such of thermal, acoustic, aqueous, mechanical, electrical, magnetic or light techniques. Etymologically it means “agents of nature” and in fact some of the physical agents are still applied without any modifications from their nature origin.

Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine The actual definition of the specialty according to the White Book is: PRM is the primary medical specialty responsible for the prevention, medical diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation management of persons of all ages with disabling health conditions and their co-morbidities, specifically addressing their impairments and activity limitations in order to facilitate their physical and cognitive functioning (including behaviour), participation (including quality of life) and modifying personal and environmental factors.
Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine physician Medical Doctor with the specialty in Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine. Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine specialist; the same as Physiatrist.
Physical Medicine The part of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine dealing with the application of Physical Modalities, including Diagnostic or Therapeutic techniques; it includes Therapeutic Exercises, since they are based on physical forces.
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Old definition of the Specialty, still maintained in some countries out of Europe (notably US, but not only). It has now been substituted by Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine
Physical Modalities Instruments used to apply physical external therapeutic forces. Sometimes also called Physical Therapy and/or Physiotherapy
Physical Therapy The part of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine dealing with the application of Physical Modalities. Sometimes also called Physiotherapy.
Physiotherapist Rehabilitation health professional practicing Physiotherapy. It is not a Medical Doctor. Not to be confused with Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine physician
Physiotherapy One of the Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine areas or modalities of intervention, usually practiced by Physiotherapists. Sometimes also called Physical Therapy. In some cases some of these interventions are applied by PRM physicians.
Post-acute phase Refers to the period following the acute phase after a sudden onset condition, when the patient is medically sufficiently stable; also patients with intermittent, progressive or stable conditions can benefit in phases of changing needs; in this phase the patient is still evolving.
Postgraduate Usually, any academic course dedicated to individuals with a first-level degree. For medical doctors, it also includes learning and studying for achieving knowledge and skills in a specialized medical domain.
Potential of recovery Due to the repairing processes, they are also linked to the individual and environmental factors; PRM physicians propose and plan rehabilitation if there is a potential of recovery (functional prognosis).
Pre-clinical trials Involve experiment in cells and in non-human animal models.
Prehabilitation An educational programme and pre-operative physical and/or psychological conditioning enhancing functional and mental capacity aimed at improving postoperative functional out-comes.
Primary research Is an original first hand research; the publication of its results will be written by the person(s) who participated in the research.
PRM intervention Is any diagnostic or therapeutic act or procedure related to the Field of competence of PRM.
PsycINFO Is a database of abstracts of literature in the field of Psychology.
Rehab-cycle Is the re-iterating process of assessment, assignment, intervention and evaluation of the rehabilitation needs and goals of a person.
Rehabilitation A set of measures that assist individuals, who experience or are likely to experience disability, to achieve and maintain optimum functioning in interaction with their environments.
Rehabilitation Medicine Name given to the specialty in some European countries, but not accepted internationally. Considered by some as the part of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine dealing with rehabilitation excluding Physical Modalities and/or Physical Therapy: since rehabilitation is holistic and includes all evidence based treatments allowing to rehabilitate people experiencing disability, also Physical Modalities with evidence cannot be excluded.
Rehabilitation programme A rehabilitation programme is the chronological list of diagnostic and therapeutic actions and interventions needed to respond to a patient’s rehabilitation needs and goals; this can be for a specific phase or over the continuum of care.
Rehabilitation service (Meyer 2014, J Rehabil Med 2014; 46: 1–6) Rehabilitation services are personal and non-personal intangible products, offered to persons with a health condition experiencing or likely to experience disability, or to their informal care-givers within an organisational setting, in interaction between provider and person, addressing individual functioning needs that aim at enabling persons to achieve and maintain optimal functioning, considering the integration of other services addressing the individual’s needs including health, social, labour and educational services, and delivered by rehabilitation professionals, other health professionals, or appropriately trained community-based workers.
Repairing processes Ability of the body to recover from a disease, disorder or injury. They are mainly related to the quantity and natural history of diseases and impairments.
Robotic Medical discipline whereby, using intelligent technological devices that interact with subjects and / or their environment, individuals are helped to train and recover a lost physical function.
Science Citation Index (SCI) Is a citation index originally produced by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI), covers more than 8,500 notable and significant journals, across 150 disciplines, from 1900 to the present.
SCImago Is a Journal Rank (SJR indicator) that measure of scientific influence of scholarly journals that accounts for both the number of citations received by a journal and the importance or prestige of the journals where such citations come from.
Scopus Is a bibliographic database containing abstracts and citations for academic journal articles covering nearly 22,000 titles from over 5,000 publishers, of which 20,000 are peer-reviewed journals in the scientific, technical, medical, and social sciences (including arts and humanities);
Secondary research Is the analysis and interpretation of primary research publications in a field with a specific methodology. Cochrane Rehabilitation is an example of secondary research.
Sedbase It is a drugs side effects database.
SPA-physician Expert physician in natural mineral water, its effects in the body and management usually working in Thermal establishments or Balneotherapy units; when qualified (by acquiring in some European countries a specific specialty or competence), SPA- physicians are called Medical Hydrology Doctors (Hydrologists) or Balneology Doctors (Balneologists).
Team-based Any healthcare intervention delivered as the result of a shared decision making within the multi-professional team.
Thermal establishment Place where medical treatments are carried out by means of natural mineral water.
Translational medical research Research and development represent the transfer from basic research to commercially viable applications (from “bench to bedside”)
Triage The selection and allocation of treatment to patients according to a system of priorities, based on the patients’ need of care designed to maximize the outcome.
UN Convention of Human Rights 2005 Implementation of Universal Declaration.
UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights Governments’ commitment to progressive measures to secure the universal and effective recognition and observance of the human rights.
Undergraduate The entry level of university students. It includes all the academic programs up to the level of a bachelor’s degree or, in case of medical students, of master’s degree.
Virtual reality Discipline based on the use of computers and other devices, whose purpose is to produce an appearance of reality that allows the user to have the sensation of being present in it.
Vocational rehabilitation Process which enables persons with functional, psychological, developmental, cognitive and emotional impairments or health disabilities to overcome barriers to accessing, maintaining or returning to employment or other useful occupation.
Walking laboratory Measurement system that allows the monitoring as the ambulation develops, collecting information of all the aspects and characteristics of this
WHO Global Disability Action Plan 2014-2021 initiative for “Better health for all people with disability”

Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine team

In the literature dealing with team work and collaboration in rehabilitation, terms sometimes are used differently from their definition in scientific literature on team models and interaction between team members. Therefore, a clarification of terms is needed here.

In PRM literature the terms are mostly used to describe collaboration partners working together in the team:

  • Multi-professional team: team consisting of multiple rehabilitation professionals (e.g. PRM, PT, OT, SLT and/or others)
  • Inter-disciplinary collaboration: collaboration among different medical specialties (e.g. PRM, trauma surgeon, neurologist, cardiologist and/or others)

The term “multi-professional team” will be used for a rehabilitation team consisting of different rehabilitation professionals, the term “interdisciplinary counselling” for collaboration of PRM physicians with other medical specialists and the term “collaborative team work” for a team working in an interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary or transdisciplinary way according to the setting and needs.

The Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine team is a multi-professional team working in collaborative way with other disciplines, under the leadership of a PRM physician.