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   A physiatrist (fizz ee at' trist) is a physician specializing in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Physical Medicine involves treating a wide variety of musculoskeletal conditions such as acute & chronic pain, sports injuries and fibromyalgia.  Physiatrists also direct Rehabilitation as an inpatient or outpatient.  This involves leading a team of health professionals to treat musculoskeletal, orthopedic, neurologic, cardiac, pulmonary and cancer disorders to name a few. They see patients in all age groups and treat problems that touch upon all the major systems in the body. Physiatrists focus on restoring function to people.

   What kind of training do Physiatrists have?

  Physiatrists are Medical Doctors, just like a surgeon or a family doctor.  Residency training includes one year spent developing fundamental clinical skills and three additional years of training in the full scope of PM&R.

  There are 80 accredited residency programs in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in the United States. Many physiatrists choose to pursue additional advanced degrees (MS, PhD) or complete fellowship training in a specific area of the specialty. Fellowships are available for specialized study in such areas as musculoskeletal rehabilitation, pediatrics, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, and sports medicine.

  To become board-certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation, physiatrists are required to pass both a written and oral examination administered by the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (ABPM&R). The ABPM&R also has agreements with each of the boards of pediatrics, internal medicine, and neurology to allow special training programs leading to certification in both specialties. Why Choose a Physiatrist? Physiatrists are specialists in Physical Medicine.  This involves diagnosing and treating problems of the musculoskeletal system. They perform thorough histories and physical examinations to find the source of your pain, injury or disability, even when standard diagnostic tests don't reveal specific problems.  Like Neurologists, Physiatrists are trained to perform neurologic tests such as electromyography (EMG), nerve conduction studies, and somatosensory evoked potentials (SEP’s).

  In addition, physiatrists direct your Rehabiliation team. This often involves direct contact with other physicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, nutritionists, psychologists, & social workers.  This unique perspective allows the Physiatrist to treat the whole person, not just the symptoms.  This team approach to care is unique to Physiatrists.

  They employ a wide variety of treatment methods to reduce or eliminate your conditions.  They also teach you about your conditions which decreases the possibility of a recurrence. This comprehensive approach produces not only cost-effective results, but also a high degree of patient satisfaction.  Patients can become an active agent of their own healing. Because physiatrists offer an aggressive, non-surgical approach to pain and injury, these physicians are the ideal choice for the treatment of a wide variety of diseases and conditions. Through integrated focused care and comprehensive diagnosis and treatment, physiatrists add quality to the lives of millions of patients each year. The goal is to get you back into the game – not just watching from the sidelines!!

      How do physiatrists diagnose?

   Physiatrists' diagnostic tools are the same as those used by other physicians such as interpreting blood work, x-rays, CT scans, MRI’s, bone scans, cardiac & pulmonary tests.  In addition Physiatrists perform special tests such as electromyography (EMG), nerve conduction studies, and somatosensory evoked potentials (SEP). The only other specialty certified in these techniques are Neurologists.  All these techniques help the physiatrist to diagnose conditions that cause pain, weakness, and numbness.

  What differences do physiatrists make? Since physiatrists focus on restoring patients to maximum function, the difference they make can be dramatic. In the case of the herniated disc, the physiatrist not only takes care of the acute problem, but also treats the patient until he or she returns to optimal functioning, usually without surgery. The physiatrist also teaches the patient how to prevent the injury in the future. A broken hip in an elderly patient is another example. Physiatrists can provide aggressive rehabilitation so patients can walk and even exercise again. And because the physiatrist is concerned with all areas of rehabilitation – social, vocational, and medical – the quality of life is significantly increased for patients.

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