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ACRM 100th Celebration

ACRM celebrated its centennial conference in Atlanta 2023 in a big way:

  • 100th exhibit with 50-foot historical timeline 

  • ACRM documentary series

  • ACRM Presidents honor wall

  • 100th lapel pins for all

  • SPECIAL Plenary session by ACRM Presidents past & future

  • 100th silver spoons given to ACRM presidents following the tradition from the ACRM 50th


From Gatsby to ChatGPT: How ACRM Shaped Rehabilitation over the Last Century

ACRM presidents shared their unique perspectives on the influential role of ACRM in shaping the evolution of rehabilitation — transcending decades of societal, technological, and cultural change and significant impacts on the rehabilitation community.


Legacy of Leadership

ACRM Presidents

In the 48th episode of the #RehabCast listen to host, Dr. Bill Niehaus, as he engages in captivating conversations with esteemed members of ACRM. Together, they explore the remarkable journey of the rehabilitation field and the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine. As the 100th ACRM Annual FALL Conference is celebrated, tune in and hear insights from ACRM presidents:

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ACRM Timeline

ACRM-only key events


Founded as the American College of Radiology and Physiotherapy.


Name changed to the American Congress of Physical Therapy due to growing medical specialization.


Annual Meeting promoted in the Journal of Radiology.


Journal’s name updated to “Archives of Physical Therapy, X-ray, Radium.”


Albert F. Tyler, MD, presents the Archives to the Congress as a debt-free, unencumbered gift.


The inauguration of the ACRM Gold Key Award celebrated notable contributions in the field, honoring seven esteemed individuals including William L. Clark, F. Howard Humphris, and Albert F. Tyler.


Demonstrating adaptability to the changing medical environment, the American Congress of Physical Therapy incorporated the American Physical Therapy Association, a group exclusively consisting of physicians. The leadership also saw Albert F. Tyler, MD, taking the helm as president.


The official journal refined its title to the “Archives of Physical Therapy,” (affectionally referred to as “the ARCHIVES”) marking a decline in emphasis on X-ray and radium.


Signifying a growing focus on specialization, the Society of Physical Therapy Physicians was established. This society, solely for physicians exclusively practicing physical therapy, would later evolve into the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in 1956. Importantly, the ARCHIVES was identified as the official journal of the organization.


 The Congress underwent a name change to the “American Congress of Physical Medicine.”


The 24th Annual Meeting was the first and only instance where it was canceled due to the request of the National War Committee on Conventions.


The journal’s name became “Archives of Physical Medicine.” This aimed to distinguish between physicians and physical therapy technicians, a stance taken by the American Medical Association (AMA).


During the annual meeting, members voted in favor of collaborating with the British Association of Physical Medicine to establish an International Federation of Physical Medicine.


The inaugural John Stanley Coulter Memorial Lecture was presented, celebrating the many contributions of John S. Coulter, MD, a foundational figure in rehabilitation medicine.


ACRM rebranded as the “American Congress of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation,” emphasizing the relationship between physical medicine and the expanding field of rehabilitation. 


The organization’s official journal changed to it’s present name “Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.”


The Professional Development Committee (PDC) was established, driving introspection and guiding ACRM’s growth for decades.


ACRM expanded membership to encompass various rehabilitation disciplines, prompting a name change to its current, “American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine”.


The first Interdisciplinary Forum was launched, underscoring ACRM’s dedication to interdisciplinary collaboration in rehabilitation.


ACRM made a constitutional amendment allowing rehabilitation professionals with master’s degrees to join, leading to a substantial increase in membership.


The association published a pivotal report titled “Development of the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine into a Multidisciplinary Professional Society,” shedding light on its reorganization process.


The Ad Hoc Committee on Rehabilitation of Children was formed, which subsequently advocated for more ACRM meeting time dedicated to pediatric programs.


ACRM established the SEAR Committee, instrumental in contributing to the 1978 Amendments of the Rehabilitation Acts of 1973, with a focus on independent living.


An exhibit on Sexuality and Disability secured the top position in the scientific exhibit competition, leading to the creation of ACRM’s inaugural Special Interest Group — the genesis of the Interdisciplinary “SIGs” or I-SIGs.


June Rothberg, PhD RN, made history as the first nonphysician to take office as the ACRM President, highlighting the transformation of ACRM from a solely medical focus to an interdisciplinary approach.


The ACRM Annual Conference stood out with over 350 presenters discussing pivotal topics like Sexuality and Disability, the Independent Living movement, and advanced Measurement and Evaluation models.


ACRM launched the Head Injury Task Force, which eventually became the Brain Injury ISIG, laying down significant standards in brain injury rehabilitation.


“Independent Living: From Social Movement to Analytic Paradigm” by Gerben DeJong, PhD, (ACRM President 2006 - 2007) was groundbreaking. Published in the October issue of The ARCHIVES. This landmark article was reprinted sixteen times and translated into seven languages.


ACRM president (1938 - 1939) Frank H. Krusen published Krusen’s Handbook of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.


ACRM expanded its inclusivity by admitting rehabilitation professionals with bachelor’s degrees, resulting in a significant boost in membership from 2,902 members in 1986 to 3,360 members by 1989.


1988: Under the presidency of John Melvin, ACRM played a pivotal role in advocating for the creation of the NIH National Center for Rehabilitation Research. Additionally, the board supported the establishment of the Brain Injury Interdisciplinary Special Interest Group and introduced significant awards like the Distinguished Member Award and Edward Lowman Award.


Under the leadership of Dorothy Gordon, ACRM underwent a significant operational separation from the shared offices and management of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AAPMR).


ACRM showed visible support for the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was signed into law.


ACRM held its first independent annual meeting in Denver, CO, separating from the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation for the first time since 1938.


Brain Injury Movement — ACRM pens the definition of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (Mild TBI), bringing brain injuries to the forefront of medical concern.


The Board of Governors began to articulate and implement a new vision for ACRM in response to changing healthcare dynamics and membership demographics.

»The focus shifted towards rehabilitation research for those who generate, utilize, or fund rehabilitation research.

»NEW FOCUS: Rehabilitation Research


ACRM celebrated its 75th Anniversary during the annual meeting in Seattle. This celebration, coordinated by Robert H. Meier III, honored ACRM’s traditions while recommitting to its future vision.


Facing challenges in the aftermath of its separation from joint meetings with the AAPM&R, ACRM’s membership was in decline.


Amid challenges with membership numbers, meeting attendance, and the financial outlook, a significant turnaround occurred with the hiring of CEO Jon Lindberg. His leadership provided a fresh strategic direction and bolstered ACRM’s operations and outreach in the subsequent years.


New Management Direction & Business Model: ACRM, under President Joseph Giacino (ACRM President) and Jon Lindberg (CEO), initiated a comprehensive overhaul of its management structure using the 5M Model™, focusing on membership, meetings, media, marketing, and management. This led to improved fiscal health, a relocation of headquarters, and a membership recovery plan.


New Governance Model & Journal Contract Renewal: Under President Gary Ulicny, ACRM introduced a clear governance model differentiating board and management roles. Additionally, the organization renewed its contract with Elsevier for the esteemed ARCHIVES of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation journal.


ACRM Brain Injury Interdisciplinary Special Interest Group (BI-ISIG) publishes the Cognitive Rehabilitation Manual and launches a series of workshops and online training.


 Logo Redesign and Symbolism: As ACRM neared its 90th anniversary, President Tamara Bushnik spearheaded the launch of a new logo, featuring a lotus flower, symbolizing ACRM’s interdisciplinary commitment and its mission to bring about new beginnings for those with disabling conditions.


ACRM LaunchPad debuts at the Annual Conference


RehabCast podcast features indepth interviews with scientists publishing in the journal and news briefs relevant to all rehabilitation clinicians — PM&R physicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, psychologists and more.


ACRM Brain Injury Interdisciplinary Special Interest Group (BI-ISIG) publishes the ACRM Brain Injury Interdisciplinary Special Interest Group (BI-ISIG) publishes the Cognitive Rehabilitation Manual —Manual & Textbook — SECOND EDITION complete with robust campanion website and updated online course and in-person workshops.


ACRM holds their 100th Annual Conference in Atlanta.


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