Here’s a summary from the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation:
Physiatrists, or rehabilitation physicians, are medical doctors who are:
–Experts at diagnosing and treating pain
–Restore maximum function lost through injury, illness or disabling conditions
–Treat the whole person, not just the problem area
–Lead a team of medical professionals
–Provide non-surgical treatments
–Explain your medical problems and treatment plan
–Work not only on treatment but also prevention
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).
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. Rehabilitation physicians take the time needed to accurately pinpoint the source of an ailment. They then design a treatment plan that can be carried out by the patients themselves or with the help of the rehabilitation physician’s medical team. This medical team might include other physicians and health professionals, such as neurologists, orthopedic surgeons, and physical therapists.
By providing an appropriate treatment plan, rehabilitation physicians help patients stay as active as possible at any age. Their broad medical expertise allows them to treat disabling conditions throughout a person’s lifetime.