About Physical Rehabilitation

What is Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation?

Physical medicine and rehabilitation also referred to as rehabilitation medicine, is the medical specialty concerned with diagnosing, evaluating, and treating patients with physical disabilities. These disabilities may arise from conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system such as neck and back pain, sports injuries, or other painful conditions affecting the limbs, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Alternatively, the disabilities may result from neurological trauma or diseases such as spinal cord injury, head injury, or stroke.

What does a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician do?

Physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians — also known as physiatrists — emphasize prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of people disabled by disease, disorder, or injury. Goals of a physiatrist include:

  • Maximize independence with daily living activities
  • Decrease pain
  • Enhance performance/functionality to improve quality of life without surgical intervention
  • Physical medicine and rehabilitation providers treat the whole person, not just the problem area. Physical medicine and rehabilitation often are called the quality of life profession because their goal is to enhance the body’s performance.

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