What is Physiatry?
Physiatry is a branch of medicine that diagnoses and treats disorders causing temporary or permanent impairment. A physiatrist (fizz ee at' trist) is a physician specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation, focusing on restoring function. They see patients in all age groups and treat problems that touch upon all the major systems in the body.
They care for patients with acute and chronic pain; patients with musculoskeletal problems like back and neck pain, tendonitis, pinched nerves and fibromyalgia; patients who have experienced catastrophic events resulting in paraplegia, quadriplegia, or traumatic brain injury; and individuals who have had strokes, orthopaedic injuries, or neurologic disorders such as multiple sclerosis, polio, or ALS. Physiatrists also treat serious disorders of the musculoskeletal system that result in severe functional limitations. Physiatrists practice in rehabilitation centers, hospitals, and in private offices. They often have broad practices, but some concentrate on one area such as pediatrics, sports medicine, geriatric medicine, brain injury, or many other special interests. Physiatrists coordinate the long-term rehabilitation process for patients with spinal cord injuries, cancer, stroke or other neurological disorders, brain injuries, amputations, and multiple sclerosis.
To become a physiatrist, individuals must successfully complete four years of graduate medical education and four additional years of postdoctoral residency training. Residency training includes one year spent developing fundamental clinical skills and three additional years of training in the full scope of the specialty. There are more than 80 accredited residency programs in physical medicine and rehabilitation in the United States. Fellowships are available for specialized study in such areas as musculoskeletal rehabilitation, pediatrics, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, and sports medicine.
To become board-certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation, physiatrists are required to pass both a written and oral examination administered by the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (ABPM&R). The ABPM&R also has agreements with each of the boards of pediatrics, internal medicine, and neurology to allow special training programs leading to certification in both specialties.
Our physiatrists have completed four years of graduate medical education and four additional years of postdoctoral residency training. Many have additional training and interests in specific areas, such as:
- Musculoskeletal rehabilitation
- Electrodiagnostic medicine
- Occupational medicine
- Performing arts medicine
- Sports medicine
- Women’s health
- Male fertility
- Geriatric medicine
- Developmental disabilities