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Physiatrist

What is physiatry?

Physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) is also called physiatry. This medical specialty focuses on evaluating and treating people with a disease, disorder, or injury that impairs their normal function.

What is a physiatrist?

A physiatrist is a doctor who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation.

Physiatrists complete 4 years of medical school, plus 4 more years of residency training. Many complete fellowship training in a specialty area. After that, doctors are eligible to take the tests (oral and written) of the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (ABPM&R) to become a board-certified physiatrist.

These specialists provide many medical services. But they don't do surgery. They treat many conditions that affect the following:

  • Muscles and bones

  • Heart and blood vessels

  • Lungs and breathing

  • Nervous system

This includes conditions such as arthritis, back pain, work- and sports-related injuries, and brain or spinal cord injuries.

Physiatrists work in many settings, such as:

  • Hospitals

  • Inpatient rehab centers

  • Outpatient rehab centers

  • Private practice

A physiatrist leads a rehab team. This team may include physical and occupational therapists, speech therapists, rehab nurses, and others as needed. The goal is to treat the whole person. This means addressing a person's physical, emotional, work, and social needs.

Online Medical Reviewer: Daphne Pierce-Smith RN MSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Thomas N Joseph MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Trina Bellendir PT
Date Last Reviewed: 11/1/2020
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