The word ‘Physical Medicine’ can be defined as the branch of medicine dealing with the treatment of disease and injury by means of physical agents such as exercise, massage, manipulation, heat, or cold. The word ‘Rehabilitation’ can be defined as the process of restoring to a condition of good health or former capacity after an illness or injury. It is not just the restoration of physical health but also cognitive and psychological health.
Hence, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) is a specialty that focuses on restoring physical and/or cognitive and psychological health primarily through physical agents. Medications and Injections are used when necessary. A PM&R physician is called a Physiatrist.
A physiatrist treats musculoskeletal, neurological, cardiac, and pulmonary problems across a wide range of conditions (please see “conditions we treat” on our website for these wide range of conditions). Due to the nature of this specialty, a Physiatrist works closely with a team of professionals such as Physiotherapist, Occupational therapist, Speech-Language pathologist, Psychologist/Neuropsychologist, Rehabilitation nurse and Social worker and acts as a team leader to provide an interdisciplinary care.
Interdisciplinary care is the process of providing care by involving two or more disciplines and integrates beyond discipline-specific approach. Such an approach is necessary because the problems of the patients a physiatrist treats are often multifaceted. A physiatrist acts a liaison between other Physicians and therapists because of knowledge about medicine as well as therapies.
A physiatrist has to undergo a basic medical training (MBBS) followed by post-graduation training (MD or DNB) in PM&R. Further specialization can be done in various areas such as Brain Injury, Spinal cord injury, Pain, Pediatrics, Sports to name a few.
In summary, the phrase PM&R is a well-integrated concept. A Physiatrist bridges the gap between other physicians and therapists. Interdisciplinary care is the process through which a Physiatrist primarily provides care.