A new Department of Rehabilitation Medicine has been set up at Semmelweis University as an independent organizational unit on the basis of the National Medical Rehabilitation Center (OORI), and by developing the previous departmental group into its own department. In parallel, starting in the next academic year and as part of the ongoing curriculum reform, teaching of rehabilitation medicine as a separate compulsory subject will start as part of the fifth-year block practices. A ceremony to mark the announcement was held in the Semmelweis Salon.

In his opening remarks, rector Dr. Béla Merkely noted that when he took up his new office he considered curriculum reform one of his most important tasks. In the new curriculum introduced in the current 250th anniversary year of the university, two independent subjects have been introduced: medical rehabilitation and sports medicine. Teaching of the former will take place in three locations as a result of strong cooperation: the National Medical Rehabilitation Center, the András Pető Faculty (PAK) and the Szent Rókus (Saint Roch) Hospital, which is operating as a new university hospital. The main pillar will be OORI, but the rector highlighted the significance of PAK also taking on a role in this area. The new course, worth 2 credits, will start for fifth-year students next year, he added.

“This is an important moment for the rehabilitation profession,” said rector’s commissioner Dr. Péter Cserháti, the director of OORI. There are 15,000 rehabilitation beds in Hungary, so it is a welcome development that this profession will be included in the Hungarian medical curriculum, he noted. Recalling the development of the field, he said that rehabilitation now uses the most advanced technologies, including the recent addition of a robo-assisted rehabilitation unit and the use of virtual memory to help treat stroke patients. He said that OORI has always had close ties with the university’s faculties, and the creation of the new department could strengthen this relationship. Among new areas that could be further developed, he mentioned restoring the fertility abilities of patients that suffered spinal injuries.

Dr. Merkely announced that he has named Dr. Cserháti as a rector’s commissioner in charge of coordinating the related units of the university.

Dr. Andrea Zsebe, the dean of PAK, noted that the habilitation and rehabilitation of around 1700 children and adults disabled due to nervous system disorders is carried out at PAK using the Pető system, and expressed her pleasure that PAK can be a part of the newly set up department. It is also an opportunity to help make conductive pedagogy more widespread in the country, she noted.

Dr. Zoltán Dénes, the head of the new department and medical director at OORI, noted that this is a relatively new profession, with physical medicine and rehabilitation declared an independent field by the World Health Organization in 1968. OORI was set up in 1975, while some 1500 professionals have been trained in recent years. Starting next year, each student will spend one week at OORI to learn about rehabilitation medicine, he said.

The Department of Rehabilitation Medicine will be created as a legal successor to the current Rehabilitation Departmental Group that operated under the Faculty of Medicine’s Department of Psychotherapy. The university’s Senate decided on establishing the department on August 29.

Pálma Dobozi
Translation: Tamás Deme
Photo: Zoltán Adrián