Sub-Acute Care Team: The Physiatrist
Physiatry is a branch of physical medicine and part of orthopedic rehabilitation. The physiatrist specializes in health problems following injury, accident or illness.
There are several specialties involved in the sub-acute care team. Meet – the physiatrist.
We hear much more about the physical therapist, but there is a great difference between the two.
A physiatrist is a medical doctor, who has completed medical school, with the addition of 4 years of residency training in the field. While the physiatrist does not perform operations, he can prescribe medications and refer a patient to physical therapy and rehabilitation.
When should one see a physiatrist?
A person who has a disability or impediment due to injury of disease should visit a physiatrist. For example, spinal cord injuries or a frozen shoulder. People who acquired disabilities work with a physiatrist in order to improve their quality of life.
What are the injuries that a physiatrist specializes in?
- Sports and spine related injuries
- Injuries/impediments due to illness
- lower back pain
- neuropathic conditions
Would you meet the physiatrist in a rehabilitation center?
Yes. A patient in a rehabilitation setting may have more than one medical issue, and the physiatrist will be in charge of comprehensively managing the issues on the rehabilitative journey. After injury or illness, a person wants to get their life back together again. As far as is possible, the physiatrist will help to achieve that, without resorting to surgery.
Will the physiatrist send a patient for further testing?
Sometimes, after listening to a patient’s description, in order to better understand the problems, the patient might be sent to perform further tests, such as,
- Electodiagnostic testing
How can the physiatrist help a patient to achieve functional ability and quality of life?
The main goals of the physiatrist include:
(1) diagnosis of the problem,
(2) restoring function as best as possible,
(3) pain reduction
(4) treating the whole person, not just the problematic symptoms.
The overall goal is to help a person stay as active as possible, no matter their age.
Every person on the sub-acute care team works towards curing health problems following injury, accident or illness. The physiatrist plays an important part in the team. An alternative title for a physiatrist is, “non-operative pain management doctor”, but most people use the more shorter title of “Doctor”.
Photo by Matteo Catanese on Unsplash