Rehabilitation medicine involves assessing and treating patients who have had a loss of function due to certain life-changing illnesses and injuries. The objective is to reintegrate them back into their home, community, employment and leisure activities.

The rehabilitation service deals with patients who have undergone limb amputations, as well as those with acute neurological conditions such as stroke, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury or other acquired brain injury. The optimal outcome of rehabilitation for patients of working age is re-entry to the workforce after the onset of an illness or injury.

The purpose of an assessment by a specialist trained in rehabilitation medicine is to predict how a patient will recover and then direct them to the most appropriate rehabilitation services for their needs.

The rehabilitation consultant works closely with colleagues in nursing, occupational therapy, dietetics, physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, medical social work and psychology.

We are proud of the national spinal injuries unit at the Mater Hospital. Here, almost all cases of spinal cord injury in Ireland are treated acutely. This accounts for a significant proportion of the work of the rehabilitation medicine service in the hospital.

Education and Research

Most undergraduate and postgraduate education in rehabilitation medicine takes place in the National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH), where students from all the Dublin medical schools have an attachment of varying duration. Higher specialist training in rehabilitation medicine is also concentrated at the NRH.

However, interested medical students or senior house officers are welcome to spend time observing and assisting the acute assessments by the rehabilitation consultant in the Mater Hospital.  


A Health Research Board award has recently been granted to examine the epidemiology of spinal cord injury in Ireland.

Some recent relevant publications include:

  • É Smith, A O’Reilly, S Morris, K Synnott, M Timlin. Review of time to surgical decompression in traumatic spinal cord injured patients in Ireland. Ir Med J 2015;108(9):265-7
  • É Smith, M Brosnan, C Comiskey, K Synnott. Road collisions as a cause of traumatic spinal cord injury in Ireland, 2001 – 2010. Top Spinal Cord Inj Rehabil 2014; 20(2): 158-165
  • RA Bruce-Brand, GC Colleran, JM Broderick, DF Lui, É Smith, EC Kavanagh, AR Poynton. Acute nontraumatic spinal intradural haematoma in a patient on warfarin. J Emerg Med 2013; 45(5):695-7

Our consultants

Referral information

Patients are referred by medical or surgical teams caring for inpatients through the referral system on patient centre.