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