Physiatry Definition: What is Physiatry?

Physiatry is a medical specialty that emphasizes the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of people with disability. Physiatrists are also known as Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) physicians.

Physiatry has been recognized as a distinct medical specialty since 1947. While physical therapy has been used for thousands of years, modern physiatry incorporates new technologies to rehabilitate patients. For example, regenerative medicine, or stem cell therapy, can be used to repair damaged tissue. A spinal cord stimulator may be used to treat pain caused by arthritis or injuries.

What Are the Benefits of Physiatry?

Physiatrists are medical doctors with additional training in pain management. Physiatrists prioritize healing by attending to a person’s physical, emotional, medical, occupational, and social needs. Physiatry aims to restore health, improve function, reduce pain, and improve the quality of life for injured or disabled people.

Physiatrists treat people of all ages. Together with other medical experts, including physical therapists, occupational therapists, and other physicians, they treat individuals holistically to maximize rehabilitation.

An evaluation by a physiatrist includes a thorough medical examination of symptoms, amount of pain and impairment, kind of injury or disease, and any neurological issues. They can assess how any problems are affecting a patient and their ability to move comfortably. The physiatrist will identify what therapy is likely to optimize function and decrease pain.

Physiatrists develop personalized treatment plans to achieve therapy goals. Some notable strategies include:

  • Rehabilitation to treat injuries of the spinal cord, brain trauma, or stroke
  • Chronic pain management
  • Sports injuries such as tendonitis, stress fractures, and concussions
  • Post-operative care after procedures like joint replacement, organ transplantation, and heart surgery
  • Musculoskeletal care for symptoms of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis

The goal of physiatry is to improve the quality of life without surgery. Physiatrists use a range of non-surgical treatment approaches to reduce pain and improve function.

Treatments include but are not limited to electrical stimulation, active physical therapy, joint injections, medications, and assistive devices.

What Conditions Do Physiatrists Treat?

Physiatrists can treat a range of nervous system and musculoskeletal conditions. They specialize in helping individuals with injuries or disabilities that affect cognitive or physical functioning. Some physiatrists concentrate on particular areas, such as neck and back pain.
Many conditions may compromise the independence, functional capacity, and quality of life of an individual, including:

If you could benefit from a physiatrist’s care, don’t hesitate. Make an appointment today!

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