Physiatrists treat chronic and acute pain, loss of motor function, and other disabilities that are due to illness or injury, according to the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Physiatrists specialize in treating conditions involving the bone, muscle and nervous systems that affect how people move.
Another name for a physiatrist is a rehabilitation physician, states the AAPMR. Physiatrists both diagnose and treat pain and disabilities to give the patient a higher quality of life. They work with other specialists, such as physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, social workers and athletic trainers, to provide non-surgical options for patients with movement-related health issues. Physiatrists are required to have at least four years of residency training in rehabilitation and the treatment of the musculoskeletal system.
Physiatrists treat conditions like spine problems, repetitive stress injuries, sports injuries and chronic illnesses, and they play a part in rehabilitating stroke patients, explains Mayfield Brain and Spine. Physiatrists develop treatment plans with their teams and their patients so that the patients can successfully perform daily tasks. Treatment plans integrate pain management and the use of assistive devices, such as canes or braces, as necessary to improve functioning. They also help maintain the patient's emotional well-being.