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 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.
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).
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.
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
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.
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.
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.