Physical medicine and rehabilitation, also referred to as rehabilitation medicine, is the medical specialty concerned with diagnosing, evaluating, and treating patients with physical disabilities. These disabilities may arise from conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system such as neck and back pain, sports injuries, or other painful conditions affecting the limbs, for example carpal tunnel syndrome. Alternatively, the disabilities may result from neurological trauma or disease such as spinal cord injury, head injury, or stroke. A physician certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation is often called a physiatrist. The primary goal of the physiatrist is to achieve maximal restoration of physical, psychological, social, and vocational function through comprehensive rehabilitation. Pain management is often an important part of the role of the physiatrist. For diagnosis and evaluation, a physiatrist may include the techniques of electromyography to supplement the standard history, physical, X-ray, and laboratory examinations. The physiatrist has expertise in the appropriate use of therapeutic exercise, prosthetics (artifical limbs), orthotics, and mechanical and electrical devices.
Training required: Four years plus one year clinical practice.
For more information about this specialty, including the nature of the work, personal characteristics, residency requirements, match data, workforce statistics, compensation, and relevant links and readings, please see the AAMC page on this specialty (requires login to AAMC site. See "Specialty Pages" tab).
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at UNC
Residency Director: Michael Y. Lee, M.D., M.H.A.
Spotlight on Specialties: Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
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