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Rehabilitation Medicine Specialist Doctor

Rehabilitation Medicine Specialist Doctor

A person may physically experience disabilities and impairment of body function after experiencing health problems, being in an accident, or while in the recover phase. The presence of rehabilitation medicine specialists or physiatrists is considered key in helping patients cope with or deal with the impairment of body function.

There are numerous factors that can affect a person’s physical performance or/and function. Illnesses, accidents, trauma, or injuries – these may be the reason for changes in the body affecting a person’s quality of life. When a person experiences limitations in moving and interacting with their surroundings, it will interfere with their daily activities. One thing that can be done to improve this condition is through regular therapy under the supervision of a rehabilitation medicine specialist. Along with developments in the world of medicine and technology, patients can undergo various kinds of therapy according to their needs. Recovery through therapy does not only have an impact on the physical, but also on the emotional aspect of the patient who is affected by the dysfunction experienced.

In the medical world, the field of rehabilitation medicine is under Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) or also known as Physiatry. The emergence of physiatry stemmed from Dr. Frank H. Krusen, who pioneered physical medicine using physical modalities (light, heat, water, cold, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, sports, mechanical devices, etc)

According to the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, PM&R or physiatry is a branch of medicine that deals with functional disorders and physical & cognitive disabilities of patients. Physiatrists are able to provide diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment to help patients achieve success in restoring their physical condition and body function. There are various therapeutic procedures that a physiatrist may advise their patient to undergo. It can be said that PM&R is a medical specialty with a wide scope of work in prevention, therapy and rehabilitation.

Conditions and Diseases Treated by Rehabilitation Medicine Specialists

Within the scope of work of rehabilitation medicine specialist doctors, there are several conditions that can be treated in order to improve body functions. The most common cases are:

  • Cerebral palsy.
  • Spinal cord injury.
  • Patients with autism.
  • Patients who experience changes in life phases such as childbirth or menopause, as well as age-related diseases
  • Patients dealing with obesity problems generally have difficulty moving due to excessive loads.
  • Patients who have limited body functions due to accidents or injuries. The affected parts of the body, such as hands, feet, and spine, will usually experience paralysis or disability. With regular therapy, it is still possible for the patient to improve their body function.
  • Patients who experience weakness of limbs, muscle stiffness, and various other functional limitation due to disease like stroke. Stroke may cause a patient to experience speech problems, trouble walking, sitting, and other limitations that cause the patient to not able to move.
  • Patients who deal with arthritis, back pain, and other chronic pain diseases that reduce body function, cause stiffness, and affect limited movement.

Medical Procedures Rehabilitation Medicine Specialists Can Perform

In order to raise hope for patients to be able to return to their regular activities, there are several types of therapies applied by physiatrists such as: 

  • Occupational therapy, a type of therapy that aims to help patients with physical, mental and cognitive impairment so they can carry out and participate in everyday tasks as independently as possible. This therapy is initiated with a doctor’s analysis of the obstacles faced by the patient. After that, the doctor will provide training and evaluation with the purpose to help patient carry out their daily activities. The therapy given focuses on helping patients perform daily activities such as bathing, dressing, eating, training body balance, and various other activities. This therapy is generally applied to sufferers of stroke, brain injury, arthritis, and autism.
  • Physiotherapy, a type of therapy that aims to strengthen joints and muscles and improve their function. Physiotherapy is generally for patients that deal with functional limitations in movement such as difficulty walking, standing, moving, going up and down stairs. This therapy is recommended for patients who have suffered from injuries that decrease body function, as well as patients who have undergone amputation procedures. In the case of amputation, physiotherapy is performed to adjust the patient’s body with assistive devices. In order to use the devices appropriately, it takes proper exercise to strengthen the joints and muscles of the patient.
  • Talk therapy, a therapy conducted on patients who have difficulty in speaking and word-finding. This therapy can be given to patients who experience fluency disorder like stuttering. In addition, there are several effects of other diseases that cause patients to have difficulty speaking, such as apraxia, stroke, dysarthia, vocal cord paralysis, ADHD, dementia, and autism. The talk therapy provided by physiatrists can also help in strengthening various muscles in the face, mouth and throat to improve the speech of patients.
  • Social rehabilitation, a type of therapy that helps patients learn to adapt to the changes they experience due to surgery, accidents, injuries, and various diseases that affect the body. Patients who experience physical changes and body impairment may deal with depression or lower sense of self-esteem which makes them reluctant to socialise. Social rehabilitation helps train the patient’s mental and cognitive abilities, improving their confidence when interacting socially in the community.

When to See a Rehabilitation Medicine Specialist?

Patients who consult a physiatrist are generally those who have just gotten out of inpatient care, yet experience a decrease in body function and even have lost their ability to do physical activities due to their illness or health problems. Usually, a general practitioner or specialist doctor will suggest the patient to undergo therapy with a physiatrist. Some of the conditions experienced by patients include cerebral palsy, spinal disorders, or stroke.

In children, autism can interfere with growth and development which will affect them in their daily activities. In fact, stroke can also occur to people at an early age and result in impairment. A physiatrist has the ability to treat such problems by determining the intensity of therapy needs of the children.

In addition, therapy with a physiatrist is highly recommended to improve mental health and restore patient’s confidence – especially for patients who experience sudden changes due to disease or accidents and who experience chronic diseases. If the patient experiences continuous physical and cognitive decline, he/she is strongly advised to immediately consult a physiatrist.

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