History

The Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine has consistently been voted the best rehabilitation hospital in New York and one of the top ten in the country since 1989, when U.S. News & World Report introduced its annual "Best Hospitals" rankings. The world’s first university-affiliated facility devoted entirely to rehabilitation medicine, the Rusk Institute is among the most renowned center of its kind for the treatment of adults and children with disabilities-home to innovations and advances that have set the standard in rehabilitation care for every stage of life and for every phase of recovery.

Dr. Howard A. Rusk, widely considered “the father of rehabilitation medicine”, founded the Institute for Rehabilitation Medicine in 1948. (In 1984, the institute was renamed in his honor.) Drawing on his experience treating wounded soldiers during World War II, Dr. Rusk developed the Rusk Institute around the philosophy that rehabilitation medicine provides care for the entire person-not only their illness or disability, but also their emotional, psychological and social needs. At a time when disabled people were often shunned by society, Dr. Rusk was determined to “take them back into the best lives they can live with what they have left”. His approach became the model for rehabilitation medicine as it is now practiced around the world.

Among its many innovations, the Rusk Institute was the first rehabilitation facility to incorporate staff-certified psychologists and social workers, the first to treat children with disabilities, and the first to actively involve family members in the rehabilitation process. Other programs it helped to pioneer include vocational training for people with disabilities, treatment for aphasia (loss of speech), the use of prosthetics to replace limbs lost to amputation, vestibular therapy for inner ear disorders, driver education for disabled individuals, and the extensive use of cognitive therapy following brain injuries.

As an integral part of NYU Langone Medical Center, the medical residency program at the Rusk Institute has trained more rehabilitation medicine physicians than any other institution. Today, 25 medical schools have rehabilitation departments led by graduates of our training program. The Rusk Institute has also developed agreements with colleges and universities across the country to provide ongoing training for health professionals in the fields of occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech language pathology and psychology. To date, more physical and occupational therapists have trained at Rusk than anywhere else in the world.

The Team Approach to Rehabilitation

Rusk was also the first rehabilitation hospital to adopt a multidisciplinary team approach to rehabilitation. In this approach, the attending rehabilitation physician evaluates the patient, then develops an individualized treatment plan that may involve sessions with a number of different specialists-including physical, occupational, speech and vocational therapists, swallowing specialists, cognitive, music and recreational therapists, psychologists, nutritionists, and social workers. In addition to caring for the patient’s physical condition, the rehabilitation team addresses the challenges of developing new strategies for daily living; the psychological adjustment of coping with change and uncertainty; the need for new forms of support for patients and their loved ones; and techniques for managing pain in order to improve comfort and aid healing. Patients and their families are important members of the care team as well. Through this team approach, patients receive coordinated care that includes a broad array of resources and therapies, carefully designed to help with each stage of recovery.