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Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation – Everything You Need to Know

Physiatrists provide non-surgical treatment for neuromuscular conditions that impair and affect everyday life. Physical medicine and rehabilitation help improve the muscles’ strength, lung capacity, and joint mobility. It is also essential in managing pain and helping patients find better ways to carry out daily activities, regardless of their current physical limitations.

Physical therapists are different from physiatrists in that the latter is more knowledgeable in the body’s musculoskeletal system . A physiatrist can perform other non-surgical therapies that a physical therapist cannot perform, like injecting patients. However, these two professionals work together for the overall well being of patients.

Point of Focus for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Physical medicine & rehabilitation emphasizes on altering the patient’s environment through adaptation. The therapist collaborates with the patient and their family members to find a way to help the patient adapt to lifestyle changes. The treatment improves the functioning of the patient by eliminating complications and treating disability.

Success in rehabilitation depends on:

  • Family support
  • Nature of the disorder, injury, or disease
  • The health of the patient
  • Degree of disability and impairment

When to See a P M&R (Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation) Practitioner

Visit a physiatrist if you:

  1. Are recovering from surgery or are about to go for a surgery which might affect your mobility
  2. Have excess weight which makes it challenging to exercise
  3. Have limited body functionality as a result of a chronic condition, accident, or injury
  4. Are too old to exercise
  5. Have just gone through life changes such as menopause and childbirth, and the changes have affected your physical function
  6. Ail from a disease or are under treatment that hinders your movement
  7. Recovering from an illness that led to nervous damage
  8. Suffer from repetitive stress injury, back problems, or pain from arthritis

What to Expect During a Visit to the Physiatrist

Physiatrists use sophisticated techniques on top of the standard diagnostic tools in diagnosing nerve conditions in your body. The nerve conduction studies and electrodiagnostic medicine are some of the procedures used by the specialist.

The practitioner assesses your condition to understand better the extent of illness, treatment limitations, and issues that could influence the treatment.

A PM & R physician prescribes a treatment after understanding your condition entirely. They also seek to understand your goals. For example, if you are a marathoner and suffered a knee injury, the physician will want to know whether you wish to participate in a tournament again, and how soon. The physician will work with you to establish a realistic short-term and long-term treatment for you.

Before the treatment begins, the physiatrists will clarify why the treatment option is the best for you. If necessary, he will also prescribe medicine.The specialist leads a team of professionals, including occupational therapists, physical therapists, orthopedic surgeons, and neurologists in providing care. Physical medicine & rehabilitation focuses on the whole person, not just the area with the issue.

PM & R provides therapy for people with the following medical conditions or injuries:

  • Arthritis
  • Brain or spinal cord injury
  • Brain disorders such as cerebral palsy, stroke, or sclerosis
  • Severe weakness after recovering from respiratory failure, heart failure, infection, etc
  • Limb amputation
  • Severe burns
  • Significant joint or bone injury
  • Chronic neck or back pain
  • Speech disorders
  • Down syndrome in children
  • Children with neuromuscular disorders
  • Autism spectrum and developmental disorders in children

Benefits of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

P M&R does not focus on restoration: it aims to improve the quality of life for a person facing limitations due to an incurable disease or disabling impairment.

A physiatrist works with a  team of specialists to ensure that your body functions to its maximum capability. The therapy focuses on improving mobility or eliminating or reducing pain. Physical medicine and rehabilitation specialists provide treatment with long term effects, not operational or quick fix procedures. The therapy allows you to perform your daily activities with ease, and it maximizes the quality of your health and independence.

An impairment increases the chances of further injury. Specific movements, postures, and positions affect your mind and body. Besides, they can also increase the chances of injury. Physiatrists teach you to avoid injury during your daily routine and in your occupation.

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Treatment Options

  1. Elderly care and rehabilitationAs people age, they tend to develop various health conditions, which slows them down and lead to inactivity. Cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer’s diseases, etc., are draining to the elderly and their loved ones. Physiatrists design geriatric programs through education, manual therapy, and exercise. They educate the patient on how to live a healthy life by preventing injuries. The exercises improve physical endurance, coordination, muscle strength, flexibility, and balance.
  2. Manual therapy – The Physiatrist uses their hands to administer the treatment. Examples of manual treatment therapy include acupressure, massage, trigger point therapy, muscle energy techniques, traction, soft tissue mobilization, mulligan concept, myofascial Release, Mackenzie concept, and manual lymphatic drainage, amongst others.
  3. Self-care is about how you treat yourself after a traumatic experience or due to illness. It focuses on your emotional, mental, and physical well being. Guided self-care helps you to make informed decisions that guarantee you do not harm yourself. It is a daily routine that contributes to a quick recovery. Hot water bottles, exercises, cold compressors, reducing stress, staying dehydrated, maintaining a good posture, eating a balanced diet, and getting adequate rest are examples of self-care routines.
  4. Therapeutic exercises – Sometimes, patients live an immobile life. Immobility worsens your condition and makes it challenging to receive treatment. If you have balance problems, are bedridden, suffer from multiple sclerosis, are obese, or are trying to cope with stroke, physiatrists design exercise regime to help you regain physical fitness.
  5. Home care physiotherapy is suitable for people who are in pain and prefers non-drug treatment. Patients recovering from illness or accidents are good candidates.
  6. Gym and wellness program – Treatment for non-communicable diseases (NCD’s) costs billions of dollars each year. According to WHO, NCDs are the leading causes of mortality and morbidity in the world. To tackle the diseases, physiatrists identify specific tasks that increase the wellness and health of the patient.

The above options represent a handful of treatments used for physical medicine and rehabilitation.

Physiatrists offer treatment options that help patients to recover mentally and physically. The approach provides the patient with a complete view of their overall health. The treatment option chosen guarantees continuous improvements in terms of quality of life and physical functionality.

Whether you have a condition that requires the services of a physiatrist or a physical therapist, we can help. Contact us today to book an appointment with one of our specialists.

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