Physiatrists treat acute and chronic pain and musculoskeletal disorders. They may see a person who lifts a heavy object at work and experiences back pain, a basketball player who sprains an ankle and needs rehabilitation to play again, or a knitter who has carpal tunnel syndrome and needs nerve conduction studies. Physiatrists’ patients include people with arthritis, tendinitis and any kind of back pain, and work or sports-related injuries.
Physiatrists also co-ordinate the long-term medical and rehabilitation process for patients with spinal-cord injuries, cancer, stroke or other neurological disorders, brain injuries, amputations and multiple sclerosis.
Physical medicine and rehabilitation is a speciality within the medical field. It involves a five year residency program after the completion of medical school. A specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation is also known as a physiatrist. Physiatrists treat a wide range of problems that range from sore shoulders to spinal cord injuries. They see patients in all age groups and treat problems that touch upon all the major systems of the body. The focus of these specialists is restoring function to people.
Physiatrists practice in rehabilitation centres, hospitals and private offices. They often have a broad practice, but some concentrate on one area such as pediatrics, sports medicine, spinal cord medicine, brain injury or various other fields.
In Edmonton, most physiatrists practice at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital where the speciality program is based.