• Complementary Integrative Rehabilitation Medicine
  • Complementary Integrative Rehabilitation Medicine



    What is Complementary, Integrative Medicine?

    According to the NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), if a non-mainstream therapeutic practice is used together with conventional medicine, the practice is considered “complementary.”  A complementary health approach might involve the use of natural products such as herbs, vitamins, minerals and probiotics, and/or mind and body practices such as yoga, meditation, acupuncture, chiropractic and osteopathic manipulation, as well as many other therapies to restore or maintain health and wellness.

    Conversely, when a non-mainstream therapeutic practice is used in place of rather than alongside conventional medicine, then this practice is referred to as “alternative” medicine.

    “Integrative” health care involves bringing conventional and complementary treatment approaches together in a coordinated, collaborative way to promote the relief of symptoms, healthy behavior, comprehensive disease management and recovery.



    Some of the more popular complementary health approaches fall into one of two subgroups:

    • Natural Products, e.g., herbs, vitamins and minerals, dietary supplements
    • Mind and Body Practices, e.g., yoga, meditation, biofeedback, acupuncture, massage therapy, tai chi, qi gong, healing touch, hypnotherapy, and movement therapies and chiropractic and osteopathic manipulation.

    Approaches that are harder to fit into a category include traditional Chinese medicine, ayurvedic medicine, homeopathy, and naturopathy.


    ABOUT the ACRM Complementary, Integrative, Rehabilitation Medicine Networking Group

    Consistent with the NCCIH, the ACRM Complementary, Integrative, Rehabilitation Medicine Networking Group (CIRMNG) works to:

    1. Define, through rigorous scientific investigation, the usefulness and safety of complementary and integrative health interventions and their roles in improving health and health care
    2. Generate scientific evidence that will inform decision-making by the public, by health care professionals, and by health policymakers regarding the use and integration of complementary and integrative health approaches
    3. Follow and promote best practices at every stage of the research, education, and/or treatment phase of the rehabilitation process.

    The ACRM Complementary, Integrative, Rehabilitation Medicine Networking Group provides an education and leadership platform to support collaboration among ACRM members, and existing groups in the use of cutting-edge complementary, integrative rehabilitation research and the translation of evidence into practice related to a wide variety of medical conditions that affect the physical function, cognitive wellbeing, and quality of life of individuals with disabilities and chronic health conditions such as cancer, traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal cord injury (SCI), stroke, neurodegenerative diseases, as well psychiatric conditions (e.g., depression).


    2018 Call for Proposals

    ACRM Annual Conference Call for Proposal

    The Program Committee invites proposals focused on research evidence and its translation into clinical practice for presentation at the ACRM 2018 Annual Conference in Dallas.

    See Guidelines & Submit >>


    Assessing Attitudes Towards Complementary, Integrative Medicine

    We would like to invite your participation in an important research survey designed to assess attitudes among rehabilitation professionals about adoption of complementary and integrative alternative medicine (CIAM). The study is approved by the NYUSoM Institutional Review Board.



    The ACRM Complementary Integrative Rehabilitation Medicine Networking Group (CIRMNG) is seeking early career researchers interested in collaborating on a symposium presentation for the ACRM 2018 Annual Conference. The symposium will feature cutting-edge CIRM research that is being conducted by those in the early career phase of their careers, such as dissertation data, just defended, postdoctoral fellowship research. Please contact CIRMNG Chair, Sonya Kim, if you are interested in participating.


    2017 CIRMNG Poster Award Recipients

    Gloria Vergara-DiazExcellence in Complementary, Integrative Rehabilitation Medicine Poster Award

    Dual Task Assessment of the Impact of Tai Chi on Postural Control in Parkinson’s Disease
    Gloria Vergara-Diaz



    CIRMNG Mission

    This Group strives to develop channels of communication and collaborations between researchers, clinicians, educators, and consumers to improve the care of the aforementioned individuals by positively impacting their health, function, and quality of life by influencing health policy and reimbursement in order to provide premier quality rehabilitation services.


    Member Benefits

    • Participate and lead the field in cutting-edge education and research related to complementary, integrative, rehabilitation medicine
    • Continuing education opportunities
    • Opportunity to plan educational courses related to CIRMG for the ACRM Annual Conference
    • Task force participation and development
    • Collaborative research opportunities


    News & Publications

    The CIRMNG plans to develop the following publications. Please contact the appropriate task force chair(s) to learn about opportunities to participate.

    • Newsletter
    • IE Pages
    • Evidence reports
    • White papers
    • Practice Manuals


    Get Involved! Join a CIRMNG Task Force

    Shilpa Krishnan


    Chair:  Shilpa Krishnan, PT, PhD
    Assistant Professor, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Division of Physical Therapy
    Emory University School of Medicine
    LinkedIn Profile

    The Education Task Force has the goal to provide opportunities to members to develop and publish materials related to complementary, alternative and integrative medicine that are designed to provide consumer-friendly information on topics relevant to rehabilitation medicine, including basic background or overview as well as provide opportunities for members to work collaboratively in scientific peer-review publications. These can be targeted toward people with disabilities, caregivers, clinicians, policy makers, and researchers. If you have an idea for a publication or want to join the CIRM Education Task Force, please contact Shilpa Krishnan.


    Co-Chair:  Sonya Kim, PhD, CRC, BCB
    Assistant Professor, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine
    New York University School of Medicine
    Phone:  +

    Carmen Capo-LugoCo-Chair: Carmen Capo-Lugo, PT, PhD
    Center for Education in Health Sciences Feinberg School of Medicine
    Northwestern University
    LinkedIn Profile

    Reza EhsanianCo-Chair: Reza Ehsanian, MD, PhD
    Rehabilitation Research Center (RRC)
    Santa Clara Valley Medical Center
    LinkedIn Profile

    Brian TheodoreCo-Chair: Brian Theodore, PhD
    Kaiser Foundation Rehabilitation Center
    Kaiser Permanente
    LinkedIn Profile

    The CIRMG Knowledge Translation Taskforce (CIRMG KTTF) was established with the goal to provide clear and timely clinical and public information related to CIRM research and practice.  Currently, the taskforce is developing a CIRM Survey that will capture CIRM personal use, research and clinical practice among ACRM members and rehabilitation professionals.

    Sonya Kim


    Co-Chair:  Sonya Kim, PhD, CRC, BCB
    Assistant Professor, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine
    New York University School of Medicine
    Phone:  +

    Carmen Capo-LugoCo-Chair: Carmen Capo-Lugo, PhD
    Center for Education in Health Sciences Feinberg School of Medicine
    Northwestern University
    LinkedIn Profile

    The Evidence-Based Guidelines Task Force works to advance scientific knowledge of complementary integrative rehabilitation medicine, to develop and disseminate guidelines for clinical practice of CIRM based on scientific principles/knowledge, and to advocate for appropriate CIRM interventions for a wide variety of medical conditions that affect the physical function, cognitive and psychiatric well-being, and quality of life of individuals with disabilities and chronic health conditions. Objectives include:

    • Clarifying what is meant by the term “evidence”
    • Describing the kinds of contemporary systems used to identify and evaluate evidence in intervention research
    • Identifying the challenges inherent in meeting contemporary standards of evidence in the field of CIRM interventions
    • Proposing next steps for examining related issues and promoting the availability of evidence-based CIRM services and information for  interventions.



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    HOW TO JOIN the ACRM Complementary, Integrative, Rehabilitation Medicine Networking Group

    ACRM Members

    One of the primary benefits of ACRM membership is the opportunity to participate in ACRM Interdisciplinary Special Interest Groups (ISIG), Networking Groups, and new groups like the CIRMNG. There is no additional fee to participate. Learn about all ACRM community groups here.

    Login Now to Join

    • Click the JOIN NOW button
    • Click "My Information" in the left navigation pane
    • Click "Edit/View Information" in the horizontal navigation and update your member profile by scrolling to the bottom of the page and selecting the groups in which you would like to participate.
    • Save your changes by scrolling down to the bottom-right "Save" button
    • Contact the CIRMNG Chair, Sonya Kim or Chair-Elect,  Patricia Heyn to learn about ways to get involved.

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    Nonmembers are welcome and encouraged to participate in any ACRM networking group or new group, like the CIRMNG, free of charge on an introductory basis for up to two years.

    Login Now to Join

    • Click the JOIN NOW button
    • Complete a "Nonmember/Visitors Form"
    • Click "Create Account" at the bottom-right of page
    • Contact the CIRMG chair, Sonya Kim or Chair-Elect,  Patricia Heyn to learn about current opportunities to participate.


    Executive Committee


    Sonya KimChair & Program Committee Liaison: Sonya Kim, PhD, CRC, BCB
    Research Scientist and Assistant Professor, Department of Neurology & Department of Rehabilitation Medicine
    New York University School of Medicine

    Sonya Kim, CRC, PhD, is a research scientist at the NYU School of Medicine where she has a joint appointment as Assistant Professor in the department of Neurology and in the department of Rehabilitation Medicine. Dr. Kim is an early career clinical psychologist, a certified rehabilitation counselor and has board certification in biofeedback. As the pioneering force behind the use of heart rate variability biofeedback to improve emotional regulation for individuals with severe and chronic brain injury, Dr. Kim’s major research interests include cognitive deficits in multiple sclerosis, chronic TBI, and exploring mechanisms and interventions that help rehabilitate functioning post-brain injury. Dr. Kim has published and presented on the importance of the lived experience as a framework for clinical care and research. She has served as PI in a grant-funded study to develop a post-traumatic growth (PTG) scale in partners of individuals with multiple sclerosis and was recently awarded a grant by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to conduct a psychometric validation of this PTG scale for partners of persons with MS. Dr. Kim is on the editorial board of the Rehabilitation Psychology Journal.


    Marianne MorteraCo-Chair: Marianne H. Mortera, PhD, OTR/L
    State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate Medical Center, Occupational Therapy Program
    LinkedIn Profile

    Marianne H. Mortera, PhD, OTR/L, received her MA and PhD in Occupational Therapy degrees from New York University. She is on the occupational therapy faculty at the SUNY Downstate Medical Center and an independent health care provider in the New York City Department of Education schools providing OT services to children with disabilities and emotional disorders. Her research has focused on the return to productivity in OEF/OIF Veterans who have sustained TBI and PTSD. She has also developed and initially tested the Mortera Cognitive Screening Measure and the Cognitive Screen for Grooming. As an occupational therapy faculty member in entry-level and post-professional programs for over 28 years, she has taught courses in kinesiology, neuroscience, neurorehabilitation, physical disabilities, cognitive rehabilitation, medical conditions, the development of clinical practice guidelines, theory, research methods, and applied scientific inquiry at New York University, Long Island University, Columbia University, Mercy College, A. T. Still University, and SUNY Downstate Medical Center. She has also presented extensively on neuroscience underlying occupational therapy intervention and the development of cognitive screens using the Structured Functional Cognitive Assessment method.

    Nicole SassonCo-Chair: Nicole Sasson, MD
    Chief, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Service Veterans Affairs-New York Harbor Health Care System
    Clinical Associate Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, Rusk Institute
    LinkedIn Profile

    Nicole Sasson is a Clinical Associate Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine –New York University School of Medicine/Rusk Institute. She has been involved in the field of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation for more than twenty five years. She has brought her innovative, integrative approach to treating patients using a combination of western and eastern techniques. Her interests in Eastern Medicine culminated in her performing her clinical training hours in acupuncture education at the West China Medical University - Chengdu, Sicuan Province, China.

    Dr. Sasson started her academic career as an attending in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at Bellevue Hospital Center/NYUMC.  During her tenure there, she was responsible for the development of the first PM&R- Acupuncture Clinic in our country. She continues to serve her patients and obtained additional certifications in Acupuncture, Spinal Cord Injury Medicine and Pain Management. She has been involved in the care of this patient population in inpatient and outpatient arenas. Major diagnoses treated include: all musculoskeletal complaints-back, neck, knee, headaches, pain syndromes, tendonitis, temporo-mandibular pain syndrome, myalgias; anxiety, dysmenorrhea, fertility, perimenopausal symptoms, immune enhancement, neuropathy, atypical pain syndromes, meneire’s disease, post-herpetic neuralgia, fibromyalgia, phantom limb pain.

    In 2004 she was appointed Chief of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation-Veteran Affairs-New York Harbor Healthcare System  (NYHHS).  This involves supervision of 3 campuses  (acute care and subacute care/inpatient and outpatient services) where 32 residents and additional fellows and other specialty residents from New York University rotate annually.   Her charge has been to increase education and staff awareness of the needs of these veterans and make sure that the returning soldiers from Operation Iraqi Freedom / Operation Enduring Freedom receive the best care available.

    Ariana VoraCo-Chair: Ariana Vora, MD
    Staff Physiatrist
    Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital
    LinkedIn Profile

    Dr. Ariana Vora has been serving on the faculty of the Harvard Medical School Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation since 2005. She completed her medical degree at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and her residency at Harvard Medical School, where she served as Chief Resident. Dr. Vora is board-certified in Integrative and Holistic Medicine, Sports Medicine, and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. She has extensive training and experience in Ayurveda and regenerative medicine. She is active locally, nationally and internationally in integrative medicine leadership and scholarship, and she is the recipient of national awards in the field of humanistic medicine.

    Her clinical and research interests include integrative medicine, regenerative medicine, and musculoskeletal rehabilitation. Her clinical practice includes integrative health consultation, lifestyle modification, non-operative orthopedic assessments and procedures, fitness and biomechanical evaluations, and regenerative techniques, with the goal of patient-centered optimization of health, function and quality of life.

    Secretary: Position open. Contact CIRMNG Chair, Sonya Kim, to learn more.

    Patricia HeynChair-Elect & Communications Officer: Patricia C. Heyn, PhD, FGSA, FACRM
    Associate Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
    School of Medicine, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
    LinkedIn Profile

    Dr. Heyn has distinctive knowledge on how to synthesize and evaluate the quality of the evidence to provide guidance on current physical medicine issues to improve research and methodology, and in conducting health services and implementation research to promote the best evidence-based practices in rehabilitation medicine. Her work on the effects of exercise training for individuals with dementia is highly cited and well-recognized in the rehabilitation field.

    Dr. Heyn has several ACRM leadership and mentorship roles as well as in many other national organizations such as the NIH/NIDKK Network of Minority Health Research Investigators (NMRI) and the Gerontological Society of America. Her investigations include the associations between exercise, mobility, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular risk factors, and cognitive function. She has been involved in several international academic programs and her research was featured in La Nación, Argentina's leading newspaper and is frequently cited in various media such as HealingWell.com, WIKIBOOKS, ABC 7 News and the Alzheimer’s Association.

    Allan TysonConsumer Representative: Allan Tyson, MA

    Allan Tyson received a BA in Psychology and an MA in Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of South Florida. As a graduate of the Brain Injury Day Treatment Program (BIDTP) at Rusk Rehabilitation, he is a peer counselor for the trainees currently attending the BIDTP and a guide for the Achilles running group where he helps individuals with disabilities participate  in the Achilles International signature race,  “Hope and Possibility,” and in the NYC Marathon.

    Allan’s personal and professional efforts are directed at helping others to overcome obstacles and achieve promising life outcomes. An ambitious goal-setter, Allan motivates and encourages people to see beyond where they are, accept coaching from others  on where they would like to be, in order to help them prepare for achieving their personal goals. Tenacious and curious by nature, Allan is a firm believer in the importance of enriching life through continued physical and mental stimulation and growth. His interests range from photography to technology and his curiosity and tenacity have helped him to face and work through the many challenges caused by his TBI. In life and in work, Allan continues to set and achieve goals that, after his injury, many thought would not be possible; he delights in encouraging others to do the same.

    Jacqueline Anne TibbettMember-at-Large: Jacqueline Anne Tibbett, PhD, LMT
    The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis
    University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
    LinkedIn Profile

    Jacqueline works as a postdoctoral associate at The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, where she performs interdisciplinary research on secondary health conditions in individuals with spinal cord injury. She is also a licensed massage therapist in New York State and Florida. A member of the ACRM Complementary Integrative Rehabilitation Medicine Networking Group and the Massage Therapy Foundation's Writing Group, Jacqueline is dedicated to advancing evidence-based research and practice in integrative healthcare.

    Philip AppelMember-at-Large: Philip R. Appel, PhD, FASCH
    Director, Psychological Services, MedStar National Rehabilitation Network
    Assistant Professor, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Georgetown University School of Medicine

    Philip Appel, PhD, FASCH, Director of Psychological and Neuropsychological Services of the MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital, and Assistant Professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine has been with the MedStar National Rehabilitation Network since 1987, working with individuals who experience persistent pain that interferes with their performance and obtaining quality of life. Dr. Appel works to help individuals adjust to the life challenges that are brought on by disability and chronic illness or injury. He teaches a variety of mental practice techniques to enhance performance through learning mentally the movement patterns needed to execute a complex motor pattern. Self-hypnosis, guided imagery, relaxation, and meditative techniques are all used to provide the individual with a greater awareness of self and ability to regulate performance and influence desired outcome.

    Dr. Appel obtained his PhD from the United States International University in 1983 and completed his clinical internship at Walter Reed  Army Medical Center.  Before Joining MedStar, he had been an active duty Army Behavioral Science Officer for 8 years. He also completed a Post-Doctoral Training Institute in Hypnosis at Maryland Psychological Association Foundation in 1987. Dr. Appel has written extensively about the use of hypnosis in enhancing performance in rehabilitation. He is a fellow of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis, a past president of that organization, is listed in the National Register for Health Service Providers in Psychology, he has a Certificate of Professional Qualification in Psychology from the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards, and is licensed in both Maryland and the District of Columbia. Dr. Appel specializes in pain management, adjustment to illness, injury and disability,  performance enhancement, and executive health coaching.

    Shilpa KrishnanEarly Career Networking Group Liaison: Shilpa Krishnan, PhD, PT
    Assistant Professor, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Division of Physical Therapy
    Emory University School of Medicine
    LinkedIn Profile

    Dr. Krishnan is an Assistant professor at Emory University School of Medicine at the Division of Physical Therapy, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine. She is a licensed physical therapist currently with active license in the states of New York and Texas. She received a Bachelors in Physical Therapy from Dr. D.Y. Patil University, India and Masters in Science in Physical Therapy from the University of Pittsburgh. She completed her PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences from the University of Pittsburgh, Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology. She further completed her NIDILRR post-doctoral fellowship with Dr. Ken Ottenbacher from the University of Texas Medical Branch on Patient-Centered Outcomes Research (PCOR)and Health Services Research. Her research focuses on PCOR methods, comparing effectiveness of rehabilitation and functional outcomes following stroke across various settings, management of caregiver burden following neurological conditions, prevention and early detection of secondary complications following spinal cord injury such as pressure ulcers, pneumonia, urinary tract infections etc. She is the PI on NIDILRR funded Switzer grant exploring pressure ulcer outcomes and service utilization among older adults in skilled nursing facility.

    Xiaolei HuInternational Networking Group Liaison: Xiaolei Hu, MD, PhD
    Physiatrist, Neuroscientist
    Department of NeuroRehabilitation, NUS
    University Hospital of Northern Sweden
    LinkedIn Profile

    Xiaolei Hu, MD, PhD is a physician and a neuroscientist in acquired brain injury (particularly stroke) care and rehabilitation. She is working as a resident with a research position at the Department of NeuroRehabilitation, University Hospital of Northern Sweden. Dr. Hu serves the Swedish Society of Rehabilitation Medicine as a member of the board. She is active in local, national and international organizations dealing with acquired brain injury and neurodisability. Dr. Hu was a physician in China before she moved to Sweden as a guest researcher in the neuroscience field in 1995. Thereafter, she started her doctoral study on exploring pathphysiological mechanism after stroke in stroke models, with focusing on how to rescue dying neurons in the penumbra area after stroke.

    After she finished her doctoral study in 2003, Dr. Hu moved her research direction into the rehabilitation field during her postdoc period. She proved that the stroke rats living in an enriched environment could improve not only motor but also cognitive recovery through neuroplasticity. Dr. Hu then renewed her medical education and became a physician in Sweden. Her main areas of clinical and research interest include implementation of evidence-based motor and cognitive rehabilitations into the clinical praxis in acquired brain injury care and rehabilitation. Dr. Hu is a busy practicing clinician involving both early discharge and community-based neurorehabilitation, neuromedical assessment and management of persons with acquired brain injury, spinal cord injury and neurodisability. Meanwhile, Dr. Hu is teaching in the medical program and supervising several medical students at Umeå University.

    Family Liaison Officer: Open Position
    Please contact CIRMG Chair, Sonya Kim, PhD, CRC, BCB or Chair-Elect,  Patricia C. Heyn, PhD, FGSA, FACRM to inquire about serving in this role.



    • Sonya Kim, Chair – Board Certified in Biofeedback
    • Patricia Heyn, Chair-Elect – Multisensory therapy, neurocognitive exercise and rhythmic movement, and diet for brain health (green tea/EGCG)
    • Nicole Sasson, Co-Chair – New York State Certified Acupuncturist
    • Ariana Vora, Co-Chair – Certified in Ayurveda and Acupuncture; certified in American Board of Integrative and Holistic Medicine
    • Allan Tyson, Consumer Representative – Guide and trainer for athletes with disabilities, Achilles International
    • Carmen E. Capo-Lugo, Task Force Co-Chair – As a researcher, focuses on the use of medicinal arts rooted and developed in the African diaspora as a tool to enhance health and improve physical function.
    • Jacqueline Tibbett, Member-at-Large – Licensed Massage Therapist and PhD in Physiology.