Physical medicine and rehabilitation, also called physiatry, is the branch of medicine emphasizing the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disorders—particularly those of the musculoskeletal, cardiovascular and pulmonary systems—that may produce temporary or permanent impairment.
Physical medicine and rehabilitation is one of the 24 medical specialties certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties. Physiatry provides integrated care in the treatment of all neurologic and musculoskeletal disabilities from traumatic brain injury to lower back pain. The specialty focuses on the restoration of function to people with problems ranging from simple physical mobility issues to those with complex cognitive involvement.
Physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) physicians specialize in a wide array of problems affecting the musculoskeletal system. PM&R specialists are experts in occupational medicine, sports medicine, spine medicine and pain management. The breadth of their diagnostic expertise allows a complete and specific nonsurgical treatment program—an approach that goes beyond the resolution of symptoms to prevention of recurrence. Physiatrists uniquely recognize the importance of maintaining function in people’s lives even when musculoskeletal conditions become chronic.