Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (PM&R), also known as physiatry, is a specialized branch of medicine that emphasizes the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of individuals with physical disabilities.
These disabilities may arise from conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system, often neck, back and/or limb pain stemming from motor vehicle accidents, occupational and sports injuries. Impairments may also stem from neurological trauma such as traumatic spinal cord injury and head injury, strokes and amputations. Painful conditions secondary to various hereditary and acquired diseases may also prompt individuals to seek a physiatric consultation.
An osteopathic physiatrist must complete four years of osteopathic medical school and then obtain a minimum of four years of specialized residency training in PM&R. To earn Board certification, a physiatrist must pass certifying written and oral examinations administered by the American Osteopathic Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Physiatrists continue to grow professionally throughout their careers via continuing education, membership in professional organizations and participation in academic teaching and research.
A physiatrist who obtains a degree in Osteopathic Medicine brings to the practice of PM&R a special emphasis on a holistic approach to patient care and pain management. Osteopathic manipulation is unique to our profession and is consistent with the PM&R philosophy of relying on non-invasive, non-surgical treatment modalities. More recently, osteopathic physiatrists have been utilizing cutting-edge techniques with the use of fluoroscopic guided injections to aide in diagnosis and treatment of spine problems and ultrasound guided injections for evaluation and treatment of extremity pain.
The primary goal of the physiatrist is to achieve maximal restoration of physical, psychosocial and vocational functioning through a comprehensive multidisciplinary team approach. The patient is regarded as a whole person who with the help of physical rehabilitation treatment, will ideally resume their pre-injury level of functioning at home, at work and at play.
Rehabilitation treatment plans often include hands-on manual medicine techniques including osteopathic manipulation treatment, therapeutic exercises, traction, heat and cold modalities, electrotherapies and medications. For diagnosis and evaluation, a physiatrist is specially trained in performing techniques of electrodiagnosis (EMG/NCS). Physiatrists makes use of all available advanced imaging technology and may utilize outcome assessment measures to assure a patient’s proper treatment response. This information supplements their own data obtained from thorough physical examinations, psychosocial and medical histories.
Treatment goals are modified in accordance with input from the patient, the treatment team and the physician’s clinical expertise. At the conclusion of treatment, a patient will have increased knowledge in ways to maintain a healthier lifestyle through exercise and proper nutrition, as well as in measures to prevent future impairments or re-injury.
Physiatrists treat a diverse group of conditions, including:
Disc and Spine Disorders
Acute and Chronic Pain
Spinal Cord Injury