Elizabeth Sandel, MD

Concussion and Brain Injury Specialist

Elizabeth Sandel, MD has been providing medical care to patients with brain injuries for more than 35 years. Specializing in brain injury medicine, she currently serves as Medical Director for Paradigm Management Services, an organization that provides medical case management throughout the U.S. to catastrophically injured workers, including those with concussions and other brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and multiple trauma.

© Photo: Susan Freundlich

Dr. Sandel also serves as Clinical Professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of California Davis School of Medicine.

Dr. Sandel is Board-certified in both Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) and Brain Injury Medicine (BIM). She is an active member of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AAPM&R), the largest organization of physicians specializing in PM&R in the world. She served this organization on the Board of Governors for 8 years and as President from 2009–2010. She was a member of the Brain Injury Medicine Examination Committee of the American Board of PM&R from 2011 to 2015 and was one of the first 321 physicians certified in this new medical subspecialty in November 2014.

Work & Research

Completely immersed in her expertise, concussion specialist Dr. Sandel has provided clinical and research program development, and professional and lay education and training in brain injury medicine through teaching, publications, and other media. She has received research funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Injury (CDC), and Kaiser Permanente. Over the years, a range of organizations, including the New Jersey Rehabilitation Association, the Pennsylvania Head Injury Foundation, and The Permanente Medical Group of Northern California Kaiser Permanente, have honored Dr. Sandel for developing clinical and research programs and for her teaching and clinical work. In 2012, Dr. Sandel received the Krusen Lifetime Achievement Award of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AAPM&R)

Published Works


For 35+ years, Dr. Elizabeth Sandel has worked with brain injury patients from all walks of life and conducted countless hours of research on the effects of concussion and other brain injuries. She now seeks to share her extensive knowledge from her work as a brain injury medicine specialist.

An incredibly informative and compelling speaker, Dr. Sandel has presented to a wide range of audiences about the true nature of concussion. She has spoken to the medical community on the latest treatments available for brain injuries as well as to general audiences about what puts people at risk of concussion and the effects of such an injury in the short- and long-term.

Dr. Sandel captivates audiences with stories of her own patients, startling statistics, and the latest medical discoveries. She speaks in language that anyone can understand and leaves her audiences with a new and more informed view of common brain injuries and an itch to raise awareness of both the ubiquity of concussion and the misinformation surrounding this common injury.

Inquire today about Dr. Sandel's availability to speak at your next event about concussions and the writing of Shaken Brain.

In the Media

Association of Academic Physiatrists

A Brief History of PM&R

Dr. Ronit Molko: The Illuminaire Podcast

The Prevalence of Brain Injuries in Sports and the Military

Dr. Ronit Molko: The Illuminaire Podcast

The “Invisible Injury”: Concussions and other TBI’s


Nurse Rona Interviews Dr. Elizabeth Sandel

Mom Talk Radio

Dr. Sandel Discusses Concussion Risks for Children

Austin 360 / Austin-American Statesman

Girls in sports have higher rates of concussion, longer symptoms. Researchers ask why.

NYU Langone Medical Center / RUSK Insights on Rehabilitation Medicine

Dr. Elizabeth Sandel: Former AAPM&R Executive Discusses Critical Elements of the Field

The Early Childhood Research Podcast / Liz's Early Learning Spot

Concussion in Young Children: What You Need to Know

Dr. Sandel guided my very first steps in a nearly 30-year journey in academic medicine and brain injury rehabilitation. As a brain injury fellow under her supervision in the early 1990s, she taught me neuropharmacology and neurorehabilitation as well as critical thinking and the 'art' of taking care of patients with extremely complicated traumatic brain injuries and multiple trauma. I will always be grateful for her mentorship and friendship, and to this day consider my decision to train with her as the single best decision of my entire career.

Michael W. O’Dell, M.D.

New York-Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell Medical Center and Columbia University

Dr. Sandel’s help has meant so much to me in the years since my concussion. She heard and understood what I was going through and didn’t try to tell me don’t worry about it. Instead, she conveyed empathy, which was so powerful. Everyone else was minimizing what I was experiencing, and Dr. Sandel held it for what it was. I cannot thank her enough!

Beverly Swann, M.F.T.

Psychotherapist and Professional Coach, Body-Mind Scholar-Practitioner

Dr. Sandel is a tireless advocate for people with disabilities and their families. Working with her for 15 years, I witnessed firsthand her ability to collaborate with other medical specialists, therapists, and community systems to improve her patients’ health. Without ever losing sight of the individual needs of her patients, Dr. Sandel also pushes for effective models of healthcare delivery for people with brain injuries, strokes, and many other disabling conditions.

Michelle Camicia, M.S.N, C.R.R.N, C.C.M, F.A.H.A.

Director, Rehabilitation Operations, Kaiser Foundation Rehabilitation Center Vallejo, California

Dr. Sandel is among the most recognized and honored physiatrists in the United States. Her inspiring career as a specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation and brain injury medicine encompasses extraordinary achievements in clinical care, research, and education. Her clinical research has advanced our understanding of neurological rehabilitation, and she advocates for the highest quality care for people with physical and cognitive disabilities. Dr. Sandel’s passion for advancing the treatment of traumatic brain injuries drove her to lead the charge that persuaded the American Board of Medical Specialties to recognize Brain Injury Medicine as a medical specialty.

Steven R. Flanagan, MD

Howard A. Rusk Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine and Chair, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, New York University School of Medicine/NYU Lagone Medical Center

I have been blessed with many great professional role models in my career, and I am fortunate to count Dr. Sandel among them. She was a pioneer in the field of brain injury medicine and a primary driving force in creating this medical specialty. She is a great clinician, gifted teacher, and productive researcher. More importantly, through all the changes healthcare has experienced, she always reminds us of our primary purpose – to improve people’s lives.

James T. McDeavitt, MD

Sr. VP and Dean of Clinical Affairs, Baylor College of Medicine; Chief Clinical Integration Officer, CHI St Luke’s Health System, Houston, Texas