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Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) (Physiatry) Print E-mail

Dr. Kennedy Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) (aka Physiatry) deals with restoration of a person affected by physical disability. A physician who has completed training in this field is termed a physiatrist (pronounced fizz-eye'-a-trist). The term 'Physiatry' was coined by Dr. Frank H. Krusen in 1938. The term was accepted by the American Medical Association in 1946. The field grew notably in response to the demand for sophisticated rehabilitation techniques for the injured soldiers returning from World War II. In order to become a physiatrist in the United States, one must complete four years of medical school, one year of internship and three years of residency. Physiatrists specialize in restoring as much function as possible to people with injuries of muscles, bones, tissues, and nervous system (for example stroke victims).

The major concern of the field is the ability of the person to function optimally within the limitations placed upon them by the injury or disease process involved. The emphasis is not necessarily on full restoration but rather the optimization of the quality of life for those who may not be able to achieve full restoration. A team approach to chronic conditions is emphasized. There are number of sub-specialties as follows:

  • Musculoskeletal Medicine
  • Pain Medicine
  • Pediatric Rehabilitation
  • Spinal Cord Injury Medicine
  • Amputee Care
  • Neuromuscular Medicine
  • Sports Medicine
  • Hospice and Palliative Medicine
  • Electrodiagnostics
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
  • Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation.
  • Pediatric Physiatrists (manage conditions such as spina bifida, cerebral palsy and Duchenne's muscular dystrophy)

Physical medicine and rehabilitation involves management of disorders that alter the everday functioning capacity of the patient. Emphasis is placed on the optimization of function through the combined use of physical training with therapeutic exercise, medications, activities modification, use of assistive device, orthotics (braces), prosthesis, and experiential training approaches.

Many Physical Medicne & Rehabilitation physicians perform Electrodiagnostics which are used to provide nervous system functional information for diagnose and / or prognosis for various neuromuscular disorders. The common electrodiagnostic test performed are nerve conduction velocity study (NCV) and needle electromyography (EMG). Nerve conduction velocity study involves electrical stimulation of peripheral nerves and the nerves' responses are measured, e.g. amplitude, onset latency, and conduction velocity. Needle electromyography requires insertion of needle electrodes into the examined muscles to detect the electrical potential generated from muscle fibers.

Common conditions that are treated by physiatrists include musculoskletal pain syndromes such as low back pain, spinal cord injury, sports injury, stroke, amputation, fibromyalgia and traumatic brain injury. Cardiopulmonary rehabilitation involves optimizing function in those afflicted with heart or lung disease. Chronic pain management is achieved through multidisciplinary approach involving physical therapists, psychologists, and occupational therapists.

The information in this article is not meant to be medical advice.�Treatment for a medical condition should come at the recommendation of your personal physician.

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