Karen J. Kowalske, M.D., is the Charles and Peggy Galvin Professor in Physical Medicine in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist, Dr. Kowalske has special expertise in treating patients with complicated catastrophic injuries, including burns and complex or non healing wounds.

She is certified by the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation – with subspecialty certification in brain injury medicine

Named both a Texas Monthly Super Doctor and a D Magazine Best Doctor a number of times, Dr. Kowalske joined the UT Southwestern faculty in 1990.

The principal investigator for the renowned North Texas Burn Rehabilitation Model System, she has published more than 110 peer-reviewed publications and abstracts – many related to burn care and outcomes – and delivered 90-plus invited lectures.

Her other research interests include wound care, amputations, post-ICU cognitive decline, and patient outcomes.

Dr. Kowalske earned her medical degree at University of Florida College of Medicine. She completed her internal medicine training and a residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Thomas Jefferson University.

Among her many professional activities, Dr. Kowalske served as a director on the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation from 2004 – 2016 and was Chair of the Board from 2013-2016, which allowed her to set the direction of the field on a national level.

She is a member of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, American Burn Association, and Association of Academic Physiatrists, among other professional organizations. She also serves as a guest editor for Burns and the Journal of Burn Care & Rehabilitation.

Meet Dr. Kowalske

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Specialist in Dallas

Physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist Dr. Karen Kowalske has treated patients with virtually every type of injury and medical condition since she joined the UT Southwestern Medical Center faculty in 1990.

Dr. Kowalske’s area of expertise is helping patients recover and regain function after suffering complicated catastrophic injuries, including burns and complex wounds.

She also treats people who have had strokestraumatic brain injuries, and amputations and those with certain neuromuscular diseases.

In addition, Dr. Kowalske is one of the region’s few physical medicine and rehabilitation specialists who treats recovered polio patients .

Dr. Kowalske is board certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation and has subspecialty certification in brain injury medicine.

Making Lives Better

Named both a Texas Monthly Super Doctor and a D Magazine Best Doctor many times, Dr. Kowalske finds her work very gratifying.

“Helping people recover, regain their quality of life, and move on with their lives after a life-altering medical event is incredibly rewarding,” she says.

“I enjoy spending time with my patients, listening to their concerns and challenges, and brainstorming with them to solve problems and make their lives better.”

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Education & Training
  • Residency - Thomas Jefferson University (1987-1990), Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
  • Internship - Thomas Jefferson University (1986-1987), Internal Medicine
  • Medical School - University of Florida, College of Medicine (1982-1986)
Professional Associations & Affiliations
  • Texas Society of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
  • Texas Medical Association
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex PM&R Society
  • Dallas County Medical Society
  • Association of Academic Physiatrists
  • American Medical Association
  • American Burn Association
  • American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Honors & Awards
  • Top 100 Doctors in Dallas 1996-2007, Voted by physician colleagues
  • Best Doctors in America, SW Region 1996-2007
  • Who's Who Among US Physicians 1999-2002
  • Who's Who Among America's Teachers 2002
  • Best Doctors in Dallas 2008-2012
  • Best Doctors in America 2009-2014
  • Texas Super Doctor 2011
  • Castle Connolly Top Doctors 2012
  • Consumer's Guide to America's Top Physicians 2013
  • D Magazine Best Doctor 2021
Books & Publications
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Musculoskeletal
  • Burns and Wound Care
  • Amputations

Clinical Focus

  • Trauma Rehabilitation
  • Stroke
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Burn Rehabilitation & Wound Management

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Q&A by Dr. Kowalske