How can physical medicine and rehabilitation help you?

Physical medicine and rehabilitation is the branch of medicine emphasizing the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disorders.

women attaching brace to man's knee

This branch of medicine relates particularly to the nerves, muscles, and bones that may produce temporary or permanent impairment.

Physical medicine and rehabilitation is one of 24 medical specialties certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties. It provides integrated care in the treatment of conditions related to the brain, muscles, and bones, spanning from traumatic brain injury to lower back pain.

What is a rehabilitation physician?

Rehabilitation physicians are nerve, muscle, and bone experts who treat injuries or illnesses that affect how you move. Rehabilitation physicians have completed training in the medical specialty physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R). They are sometimes referred to as PM&R physicians or physiatrists.

Rehabilitation physicians treat a wide range of problems from sore shoulders to spinal cord injuries. Their goal is to decrease pain and enhance performance without surgery.

What kind of training do rehabilitation doctors have?

To become a rehabilitation doctor, individuals must graduate from medical school followed by four additional years of postdoctoral training in a physical medicine and rehabilitation residency. This includes one year developing fundamental clinical skills and three additional years of training in the full scope of the specialty.

There are currently 80 accredited residency programs in physical medicine and rehabilitation in the United States. Many rehabilitation physicians choose to pursue additional advanced degrees (MS, PhD) or complete fellowship training in a specific area of the specialty. 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, rehabilitation doctors are required to take both a written and oral examination administered by the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (ABPMR). The ABPMR 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.

What is the scope of the rehabilitation physician’s practice?

Physical medicine and rehabilitation is often called the quality of life profession because its aim is to enhance patient performance. These specialists treat any disability resulting from disease or injury involving any organ system. The focus is not on one part of the body, but instead on the development of a comprehensive program for putting the pieces of a person’s life back together – medically, socially, emotionally, and vocationally – after injury or disease.

Rehabilitation doctors manage issues that span the entire spectrum, from complicated multiple trauma to injury prevention for athletes. Some rehabilitation doctors have broad-based practices that encompass many different types of patients. Others pursue special interests and focus on specific groups or problems. For example, sports medicine has grown as a special interest. Rehabilitation doctors who focus on sports medicine treat sports-related injuries, develop programs to help athletes avoid injury, and may do research in the field.

The Austin Diagnostic Clinic Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation specialists practice at ADC’s main location (inside North Austin Medical Center) and ADC Round Rock.

All of our doctors specialize in restoring function to patients who suffer from spine, musculoskeletal, joint, and nerve related pain. Many times, a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist can provide a non-surgical alternative to treatment of certain conditions.