Doctors of Rehab: What is a Physiatrist?

Clinical Expertise

Mar 25, 2016

You won’t find a physiatrist in the E.R. providing chest compressions, or in the operating room asking the nurse for a scalpel. But, that’s not to say they don’t do something equally important.

Physiatrists are medical doctors, specialty trained in physical medicine and rehabilitation. They treat a variety of disabling conditions such as stroke, spinal cord injury, brain injury, neurological disorders, musculoskeletal disorders, developmental disorders, and chronic pain.

The debilitating damage following a traumatic event can last a lifetime. Physiatrists emphasize long-term quality of life, creating a unique path for each patient based on their functional goals.

There are three ways that physiatrists help patients in their journey.

The first is Medical Management. Physiatrists are very aware of how medical issues affect a patient’s ability and motivation to reach their goals. By having a broad base of training they are able to use this knowledge to help patients hit their physical, emotional, medical, and social targets.

Second, they work towards Restoring Function. Physiatrists lead interdisciplinary teams which often include physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, nursing staff, and physician extenders. In addition to helping patients regain strength, coordination, and other functional improvements, physiatrists also work to help people adapt to new ways of doing things.

Finally physiatrists serve an important role in Educating patients and families. They help them understand their injuries and how to provide proper care giving during the recovery process. They provide useful information about what to expect, care giving and support, and how long the recovery might take.

“We understand the impairments associated with illnesses and injuries,” says Kerry Maher, M.D. “We recognize the importance of saving of lives in medicine, but we also understand that the quality of that life is really important.”

In honor of national doctor’s day, we would like to thank our hardworking physiatrists for all they do to serve our patients every day. To learn more about all of our physiatrists click here.


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