© Photo: Susan Freundlich

Elizabeth Sandel, M.D.

Elizabeth Sandel, MD has been providing medical care to patients with brain injuries for more than 30 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. She 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, 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

Brain Injury
  • Sandel ME, Delmonico RD, Kotch MJ: Sexuality and intimacy after traumatic brain injury. In: Zasler N, Zafonte R, Katz D, eds. Brain Injury Medicine. 2nd edition, New York, NY: Demos, 2012.

  • Maas A, Menon DK, Lingsma HF, Pineda JA, Sandel ME, Manley GT. Re-orientation of clinical research in traumatic brain injury: Report of an international workshop on comparative effectiveness research. J Neurotrauma 2012; 29:32-46.

  • Srinivasan L, Roberts B, Bushnik T, Englander J, Spain DA, Steinberg GK., Ren L, Sandel, ME, Al-lawati Z, Teraoka J, Hoffman AR, and Katznelson L. The impact of hypopituitarism on function and performance in subjects with recent history of traumatic brain injury and aneurysmal subarachnoid haemorrhage, Brain Injury 2009; 23:639–648.

  • Zhang L, Plotkin R, Wang G, Sandel ME, Lee S: Cholinergic augmentation by donepezil enhances recovery in short-term memory and sustained attention following traumatic brain injury. Arch Phys Med and Rehabil 2004; 85:1050-1055.

  • Umile EM, Sandel ME, Plotkin RC, Alavi: Dynamic imaging in mild traumatic brain injury: Evidence for the theory of medial temporal vulnerability. Arch Phys Med and Rehabil 1992; 83:1506-1513.

  • Umile EM, Plotkin RC, Sandel ME: Functional assessment of mild traumatic brain injury using SPECT and neuropsychological testing. Brain Injury 1998; 12: 577-594.

  • Cecil KM, Hills EC, Sandel ME, Smith DH, McIntosh TK, Lenkinski RE, Mannon LJ, Sinson G, Bagley L, Grossman R: Enhanced sensitivity of proton MR spectroscopy for detecting axonal pathology in the corpus callosum of brain injured patients. J Neurosurg 1998; 88:795-801.

  • Sandel ME, Zwil AS. Psychopharmacologic treatment for affective disorders after traumatic brain injury. In: Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinics of North America 1997; 8:743-762.

  • Zwil AS, Sandel ME, Kim E: Organic and psychological sequelae of traumatic brain injury: The post-concussional syndrome in clinical practice. New Directions for Mental Health Serv 1993; 57:109-115.

  • Sandel ME, Ellis DW, eds. The Coma-Emerging Patient. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: State of the Art Reviews, Philadelphia, PA: Hanley and Belfus; 1990.

  • Sandel, ME, Jette AM, Appelman J, Terdiman JF, Liu L, Cheng P, TeSelle M, Delmonico R, Wang H, Camicia M, Rasch EK, Brandt D, Chan L. Designing and implementing a system for tracking functional status after stroke: a feasibility study. PM&R 2013; 5:481-490.

  • Chan L, Sandel ME, Jette AM, Appelman J, Brandt DE, Cheng P, TeSelle M, Delmonico R, Terdiman JF, Rasch EK. Does post-acute care site matter? A longitudinal study assessing functional recovery after a stroke. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2013; 94:622-9.

  • Wang, H, Camicia M, Terdiman J, Mannava MK, Sidney S, Sandel ME. Daily treatment time and functional gains of stroke patients during inpatient rehabilitation. PM&R 2013; 5:122-128.

  • Jette A, Ni P, Rasch EK, Appelman J, Sandel ME, Terdiman J, Chan L. Evaluation of patient and proxy responses on the activity measure for post-acute care. Stroke 2012; 43:824-829.

  • Wang, H, Sandel ME, Terdiman J, Armstrong MA, Klatsky A, Camicia M, Lu Q, Sidney S. Post-acute care and ischemic stroke mortality: Findings from an integrated health care system in northern California. PM&R 2011; 3:686-694.

  • Wang H, Camicia M, Terdiman J, Hung Y, Sandel ME. Time to inpatient rehabilitation hospital admission and functional outcomes of stroke patients. PM&R 2011; 3: 296-304.

  • Chan L, Wang H, Terdiman J, Hoffman JM, Ciol MA, Sidney S, Quesenberry C, Lu Q, Sandel ME. Disparities in outpatient and home health service utilization following stroke: Results of a 9-year study in northern California. PM&R 2009; 1: 997-1003.

  • Sandel ME, Wang H, Terdiman J, Hoffman JM, Ciol MA, Sidney S, Quesenberry C, Lu Q, Chan L. Disparities in stroke rehabilitation: Results of a study in an integrated health system in northern California. PM&R 2009; 1:19-40.

  • Sandel ME: Stroke, disability, and unconscious bias: Interrelationships and overdetermination in medical decisions. Topics in Stroke 2011; 18:70-73.

  • Sandel ME. What effects? Measuring functional outcomes in comparative effectiveness research. PM&R 2010; 10:881-883.

  • Kirschner K, Gans B, Stineman M, Willik S, Elovic E, Sandel ME. Who will provide care for people with complex physical disabilities? PM&R 2010; 2:950-956.

  • Sandel ME, Appelman J, Kotch M, Bitermundt G, Lal N, Samuels S, Crespo Y. The California Kaiser Permanente Healthcare System: Evolving to meet the needs of people with disabilities. Disability and Health 2010; 3:240-244.

  • Kirschner K, Breslin ML, Iezzoni L, Sandel ME. Attending to inclusion: People with disabilities and health-care reform. PM&R 2009; 1:957-963.

  • Sandel ME, et al. Provider’s Handbook on Culturally Competent Care: Individuals with Disabilities. Oakland, CA: Kaiser Permanente National Diversity Council and the Institute for Culturally Competent Care, 2004.

Medical History
  • Ditunno, JD, Sandel ME. John Stanley Coulter, MD and the emergence of physical medicine and rehabilitation in the early 20th Century. PM&R, in press.

  • Verville RE, Ditunno JF, Jr., Tuakli-Wosornu YA, Sandel ME. Physical education, exercise, fitness and sports: Early PM&R leaders build a strong foundation. PM&R 2015; 7:905-912.

  • Cope DN, Sandel ME, Berrol C, Mayer N, Yarnell S: Dr. Sheldon Berrol: Champion of brain injury rehabilitation and disability rights. PM&R 2013; 5:907-914.

  • Sandel, ME. Dr. Herman Kabat: Neuroscience in translation…from bench to bedside. PM&R 2013; 5:453-461.

  • Miller LS, Sandel ME: Dr. Rene Cailliet: Advancing the field of musculoskeletal medicine by making the complicated understandable. PM&R 2013; 5:991-995.

  • Hudak AM, Sandel ME, Goldberg G, Wrynn AM: Dr. Frances A Hellebrandt: Pioneering physiologist, physiatrist, and physical medicine and rehabilitation program visionary. PM&R 2013; 5:639-646.

“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 Martinez, California

Awards & Recognition

Award of Excellence

Pennsylvania Head Injury Association

Profession of Medicine Award

The Permanente Medical Group

Krusen Lifetime Achievement Award

America Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

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Thanks to these colleagues for the website photo opportunities:

Kam Gardner, MS, CCC-SLP, Speech-Language Pathologist
Raymond Samatovicz, MD, Physiatrist, Brain Injury Medicine Specialist
Kaiser Foundation Rehabilitation Center, Vallejo, California