A Message from Mark Lissens, M.D., Ph.D., Chairman of the Assembly of Individual Members (AIM)

Mark Lissens, M.D., Ph.D., Chairman of the Assembly of Individual Members

Dear distinguished ISPRM members, I became active in PRM in 1986, so more than 30 years ago. Being a member since 1988 of the International Rehabilitation Medicine Association (IRMA), the previous PRM society for individual members, I became in 1996 a board member of IRMA (ass. Secretary General), where we prepared together with the board of the International Federation of Physical and Medicine and Rehabilitation (IFPMR), the previous society for PRM societies, the merger and integration of IRMA and IFPMR. This merger was officially accomplished in Washington D.C. on 13 November, 1999, when I became a founding member and first President’s Cabinet member as the ISPRM treasurer for five years, until 2004. Ever since, I am a member of the ISPRM Assembly of delegates and of the Assembly of Individual Members (AIM). For the first time elections took place for the AIM at the ISPRM World congress in Paris in 2018 , where I was elected as chair of the Assembly of Individual Members (AIM) of ISPRM. We’ve come a long way the last 20 years, getting international recognition thanks to several ISPRM members and leaders, and thanks to the hard work of many physiatrists throughout the entire world. ICF implementation in Rehabilitation Practice, the WHO global disability action plan 2014-2021, the World report on disability, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities are just a few of the milestones that were realised. Nevertheless a lot of work still lies ahead of us to create improvement for the more than a billion people in the world today experiencing disability:

  • cooperation with other medical specialties and international organisations (such as WHO, UN, NGO’s, etc.), already partially created through the ISPRM liaisons;
  • further development of educational tools and materials in PRM;
  • stimulate scientific research and evidence based medicine, especially for young and beginning rehabilitation physicians;
  • attract high-tech companies to encourage and support our specialty in developing advanced rehabilitation equipment;
  • convincing the political and governmental world to create more and improved laws, legislation, policies and procedures for a better access and reimbursement of rehabilitation tools and programs, which in return will be economically beneficial as productivity and reintegration of disabled people in the society will increase, as well as their social, cultural and educational participation and thus general well-being and quality of life will improve.

According to the ISPRM statutes, policies and procedures the functions of the AIM are:

  1. a) propose activities of the Society to attain the goals of its individual Members.
  2. b) determine its strategy.
  3. c) adopt activity reports and approve an annual plan of action.
  4. d) draft policies and rules of procedure for its activities and ensure that these are applied.
  5. e) elect representatives to the Assembly of Delegates and Executive Committee
  6. f) elect its Chair

At the ISPRM World congress in Kobe last June, 2019 the following plan of action was approved: Within ISPRM we need to further improve the cooperation and interaction between individual members and societies, to improve cooperation between working groups, committees and task forces, to attract even more individual members and national as well as regional societies, to make educational tools, materials, hand-outs, reviews, guidelines and others more readily available to our members, both individuals and societies. ISPRM as a society bringing together national, local and regional societies is very important, but we cannot forget, neglect nor minimalize the importance of our individual members, not only the active, but also the honorary and emeritus members. The activity of the Assembly of Individual Members should be further increased. Taking into account the regulations in article 7 of the ISPRM statutes and chapter IV of the ISPRM Policies and Procedures, the AIM membership and chair should contribute to the well-being of our society, to cooperate with and stimulate positively the Assembly of delegates, the Executive Committee and the President’s Cabinet, in order to communicate and discuss the concerns, proposals and contributions of the individual members, of which some are:

  • Agreement of all PRM societies worldwide on one single definition of the medical speciality of PRM worldwide that will become official in the definition of our speciality in all the individual countries where a speciality of PRM exists in order to eliminate some controversy on the definition of our speciality in national definitions of PRM as a medical speciality. The final goal would be a “world-wide white book of PRM” that would need to be ratified by all ISPRM member countries.
  • In order to facilitate the widespread use of the ICF classification, implementation of an ISPRM working group should be created to collaborate with the ICF-WHO branch to encourage the development of algorithms that extract relevant information from validated health related assessment tools and automatically translate this information into ICF categories.
  • Facilitate validated education programs intended to train PRM specialists in conducting high quality basic and clinical research in order to further high quality research performed by PRM specialists in the PRM field.

In order to accomplish our goals and execute our plan of action, we need your cooperation and contributions, the input of all ISPRM members. Together we will make our Society even stronger. Looking forward to meet you all soon at the coming World Congress in Orlando! Sincerely yours, Mark A. Lissens, M.D., Ph.D. ISPRM 2020 REGISTER NOW BANNER VISIT: https://www.physiatry.org/page/AnnualMeeting


  1. Dr Lissens,
    Thank you for your message. I fully agree with you, regarding to increase the activity of the Assembly of Individual Members, to facilitate the widespread use of the ICF classification, and to facilitate validated education programs intended to train PRM specialists.
    I foresee that reaching an agreement of all PRM societies worldwide on one single definition of the medical speciality of PRM may be a long-term task.
    I think that an issue that might increase Active Individual Members (AIM) contribution to ISPRM, such as in Committees, Taskforces and Special Interest Groups/Councils (SIG) initiatives, could be that the Representatives of AIM might have a level of participation and decision as the Representatives of Active National Societies have.
    Best regards
    Amparo Assucena
    Representative of AIM to the Assembly of Delegates
    Representative of AIM to the EC in the regions of Europe, Eastern Mediterranean and Africa