Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R), also known as physiatry, is a medical specialty that involves restoring function for a person who has been disabled as a result of a disease, disorder, or injury.
Physiatry provides integrated, multidisciplinary care aimed at recovery of the whole person by addressing the individual's physical, emotional, medical, vocational, and social needs. A doctor who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation is called a physiatrist.
Rehabilitation is the process of helping a person achieve the highest level of function, independence, and quality of life possible. Rehab does not reverse or undo the damage caused by disease or injury, but rather helps restore the person to optimal health, functioning, and well-being. Rehabilitate means to make able.
Rehabilitation medicine is designed to meet each person's specific needs; therefore, each program is different. Some general treatment components for rehab programs include:
Treating the basic disease and preventing complications
Treating the disability and improving function
Providing adaptive tools and altering the environment
Teaching the patient and family and helping them adapt to lifestyle changes
The success of rehab depends on many variables, including:
The nature and severity of the disease, disorder, or injury
The type and degree of any resulting impairments and disabilities
The overall health of the patient
Areas covered in rehabilitation programs may include the following:
Self-care skills, including activities of daily living (ADLs)
Feeding, grooming, bathing, dressing, toileting, and sexual function
Nutritional needs, medicine, and skin care
Walking, transfers, and self-propelling a wheelchair
Ventilator care, if needed; breathing treatments and exercises to promote lung function
Speech, writing, and alternative methods of communication
Memory, concentration, judgment, problem solving, and organizational skills
Interacting with others at home and within the community
Medicine and alternative methods of managing pain
Identifying problems and solutions with thinking, behavioral, and emotional issues
Assistance with adapting to lifestyle changes, financial concerns, and discharge planning
Patient and family education and training about the condition, medical care, and adaptive techniques
Rehabilitation is needed when a disease and injury causes an impairment. Consider the following:
An impairment is a loss of normal function of part of the body, such as paralysis of a leg.
Disability occurs when a person is not able to perform an activity in a normal way as a result of an impairment, such as not being able to walk.
A handicap occurs when there are limits that prevent a person with a disability from performing a role that is normal for that person, such as not being able to work. A handicap refers to a barrier that may be imposed by society, the environment, or by one's own attitude.
Most people with disabilities are not considered handicapped. They go to school, work, perform family duties, and interact with society fully and capably.