Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Physical medicine and rehabilitation is an area of medicine that focuses on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of disabilities that affect the brain, nerves, bones, and/or muscles. This specialized area of medicine is often referred to as physiatry, and it is characterized by a study of how the patient’s medical diagnosis translates into affectations of their everyday life. Physiatry uses a mix of physical therapy and pharmaceutical treatments to help patients manage pain while improving overall physical function, improving independence, and boosting the quality of life. This type of approach is recommended for patients who suffer from a disability, chronic pain, or other physical problems.
The rehabilitation therapy aspect of physiatry focuses on teaching patients how to be as self-sufficient as possible. One example of this would be teaching a patient who uses a wheelchair how to transfer themselves from the chair to the bed. However, the goals of rehabilitation can go beyond this and work toward reinstating the full function of the body. It is important to remember that physiatry involves a holistic patient care approach provided by a team comprised of medical professionals, the patient, and their support structure. The entire team must work toward a common goal to be successful. The medical professional portion of the team can include neurologists, orthopaedic surgeons, psychiatrists, back surgeons, occupational therapists, physical therapists, social workers, dietitians, and primary care professionals.