For further information, see Treatment Conditions in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (Physiatry)

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What is a physiatrist?

by J. William Wellborn, M.D., Physiatrist

 

A physiatrist (fiz eye' a trist) is a medical doctor who after medical school attends a 3-4 year residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Physiatry is a non-surgical specialty treating musculoskeletal and neurological conditions.

 

Physiatrists treat a variety of medical conditions and injuries including catastrophic injuries such as spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury and amputations. They see patients who have had strokes and other conditions such as multiple sclerosis and direct their rehabilitation. They lead the rehabilitation team that includes physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, nurses, psychologists and social workers, and attend to the medical needs of their patients during their stay at rehabilitation hospitals or centers.

 

Physiatrists may treat sports injuries, occupational injuries and many conditions involving the spine. Their expertise often allows patients to avoid surgery. They are frequently asked by other physicians to perform electrodiagnostic studies (EMG / NCS) to evaluate such conditions as carpal tunnel syndrome, pinched nerves in the neck and back and other nerve and muscle conditions. They may also treat chronic pain syndrome and provide therapeutic injections to the spine and extremities.

 

Physiatry recognizes the impact that severe and disabling injuries or illnesses have on all aspects of a patient's life.

 

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