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Upstate PMR Academic Program


Our mission is to prepare PMR physicians to improve the health of the special populations that we serve through patient centered, competent, culturally sensitive, and systems based medical care; advocacy for inclusive and quality health care; and clinical research to advance PMR-related science.

History of PMR at Upstate Medical University




 Physician Faculty



 PMR Residents






 Research Faculty
























Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation had an intermittent presence at Upstate Medical University beginning in 1902, with initial short-lived clinical department and division statuses, and then having a clinical-only presence from 1966 into the mid 1980’s. As was typical for the times, Vocational Rehabilitation was very active and an outreach program was established to provide professional services and equipment to surrounding rural communities through a traveling van.

However, in 1989, a new Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation was established, with Dr. Robert J. Weber named as founding Chairman.  Since that time, the Department has grown and flourished.  The program now encompasses services at SUNY Upstate Medical University (Downtown and Community Campus), Syracuse VA Medical Center, Institute for Human Performance, Upstate Bone and Joint Center and Centers at St. Camillus (Skilled Nursing Facility), with plans for additional outpatient sites.


PM&R Program Development

The new Department of PM&R brought a resurgence of services and activities. A 13 bed Rehabilitation Unit was remodeled and opened in 1990, followed by a newly constructed 30 bed unit with dedicated beds for Traumatic Brain Injury opening in 1996. The SUNY Upstate Regional Rehabilitation Center is a 50 bed Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility (IRF), with 30 beds at the University Downtown Campus and 20 at our Community Campus.

Both inpatient and outpatient therapy, rehabilitation and PM&R services have increased over the last 30 years, specialized services and clinics have developed, faculty have been certified in subspecialties and nurses and therapists have gained additional certifications and advanced degrees.

Multiple hospital programs require PM&R services for accreditations (AHA Stroke Program, Comprehensive Trauma and Burn Services, Comprehensive Cancer Programs), and condition-specific programs have developed within the department.


Upstate Specialized Programs and Services

Brain Injury and Concussion Program

Neuropsychology & Psychology Programs

Pediatric Rehabilitation

Adults with Childhood-Onset Disabilities

Spasticity & Tone Management (all ages)


Inpatient Consult Services

Stroke Program

Spinal Cord Injury               

Total Joint Program

Cancer Rehabilitation (in development)

Spine and Musculoskeletal


Sports Program


Cardiac Rehabilitation

Aquatic Therapy

Vision and Vestibular

Pelvic Dysfunction

Seating Positioning and Mobility

Burn Rehabilitation

Falls and Balance

Body Weight Support


Performing Arts


Residency Program History

The ACGME approved development of a PM&R residency program in 1990, welcoming the first resident in 1991 and 2 more residents in 1992. Due to the invaluable learning experience as well as the increased amount of exposure to multiple fields within the specialty, the program has been consistently growing in size.  Since 2018, the program consists of 18 residents, making it one of the largest programs in the nation. Currently the program has achieved full ACGME accreditation on each RRC review.

Residents participate in an active learning program, participate in both regional and national conferences and are active in all areas of PM&R after training. Residents are encouraged to submit conference abstracts ranging from case reports to original projects. Educational programs accommodate residents off-site through videoconferencing. With the full support of the faculty and the Disability & Health Research Team, residents have successfully presented in every PMR national conferences in the last several years (AAPM&R, AANEM, AAP & ASCIP among many others).

Clinical experiences at the Syracuse VAMC have been an integral part of the residency program. Since 2013, residents have enjoyed the unique opportunity to train in a state-of-the-art 30 bed Regional Spinal Cord Injury/Disease Center at the Syracuse VAMC. At the VA, our residents participate in services to our veterans, such as Physiatric Consultative MSK and EDX services, Comprehensive inpatient rehabilitation, SCI, Polytrauma and Prosthetics and Orthotics clinics. There is also a 20+ year training agreement with the Centers at St. Camillus, for Skilled Nursing Level Rehabilitation and longer term Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitation.

Outpatient musculoskeletal and spine programs are embedded at the VA (as noted) and the Bone and Joint Center (with Orthopedics). Plans are in development for other sites and in conjunction with other departments.  The Upstate Pain Medicine Fellowship and Program, sponsored by the Department of Anesthesia, is a scheduled rotation for all residents and the program welcomes PMR residents for additional electives.

A Spinal Cord Injury Medicine Fellowship, jointly sponsored by SUNY Upstate and the Syracuse VA Medical Center, plans to begin with the first fellows in 2020. Fellows will benefit from the growing Spinal Cord Injury/Disease Center clinical services, advanced care technologies, and research opportunities (see Fellowship page), along with the longstanding acute and post-acute clinical programs for children and adults with spinal cord dysfunctions at Upstate.

Scholarship Progress

PMR has always supported education for health professionals. Upstate Rehabilitation Therapies have agreements with multiple schools in the area, and the Department supports clinical observations for nursing advanced degree students.  Medical Student education opportunities have increased in recent years (see Medical Students page).  PMR research tends to be clinically based, with increasing funding over the past 10 years (see Scholarship page). Upstate PMR is represented annually through posters and presentations at many PMR-related professional meetings.


SUNY Upstate Medical University is located in Syracuse, New York in the central/upstate New York State area. The city has the amenities of an academic-focused college town with easy access to the scenic surrounding regions of upstate New York and travel to larger metropolitan areas in the US and Canada. SUNY Upstate campus is physically adjacent to the Syracuse VAMC and Syracuse University – all within short walking distances.