Note:  Jeffrey R. Basford, M.D., Ph.D, Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, MN 55905, USA
Abstract: Rehabilitation has a history of being considered a necessary evil by the rest of medicine; its results are costly and its existence emphasizes the limits of medical care. Nevertheless, the field's acceptance is increasing as lifespans lengthen and the burden of chronic and disabling diseases becomes more apparent. However, with recognition comes responsibility. We can no longer merely complain about being underappreciated. Rather, we are now being forced to improve the care we provide, prioritize our goals and develop the scientific basis to support them. However, priorities are difficult to establish and maybe particularly so in rehabilitation, where the goal, improving function, is so wide ranging and our treatments so individualized. This brief paper is designed to review the factors involved in establishing rehabilitation research priorities and note that when goals are defined broadly, a number of panels have emphasized the need for a focus on improving mobility; developing and uniformly applying better metrics; conducting better outcome studies and increasing our research infrastructure.