he physical medicine is the branch of medicine that deals with recovering the main motor functions that the patient may have lost due to an intervention of a disease or trauma.
What does the physiatrist do?
The physiatrist is the specialist who deals with the functional recovery of the main disabilities that limit motor activity and reduce its participation. These disabilities consist of impairments to body structures , anatomical, organic or limb damage . The limitations and the reduction to participation instead refer to difficulties in carrying out activities related to participation in different situations. The physiatrist’s task is to restore functionality as much as possible in order to improve the patient’s quality of life .
What are the pathologies treated by the physiatrist?
More than pathologies in the strict sense, the physiatrist is responsible for the treatment of bodily functions and structures that can be compromised, as well as activities and participations that can be limited.
Among the functions and body structures are listed:
- movement-related musculoskeletal functions and structures
- movement-related functions and structures of the nervous system
- functions and structures of the cardiovascular system and respiratory system
- sensory functions and pain
- functions and structures of voice and speech
- genitourinary functions and structures (urinary incontinence)
Among the activities and participations are:
- learning and applying knowledge
- general tasks and requests
- personal care
- domestic life
- interactions and interpersonal relationships
- main living areas
- social, civil and community life
What are the procedures most used by the physiatrist?
First, the physiatrist makes a visit with functional evaluation, after which he performs the following activities:
- isokinetic test
- shock wave therapy
- assessment of the autonomic nervous system (Exercise Medicine)
- assessment of cognitive disorders
- evaluation of speech disorders
- assessment of urinary continence
- walking test
- stress and cardiopulmonary tests
When to ask for an appointment with the physiatrist?
When chronic or acute musculoskeletal pain occurs , or functional limitations of the musculoskeletal system are experienced, a visit to the physiatrist is necessary. The physiatrist is also involved in rehabilitation in the following cases:
- post-orthopedic surgery (e.g. hip or knee prosthesis )
- after-effects of stroke or neurosurgical intervention (e.g. head injury)
- aftermath of cardiac surgery (coronary artery bypass grafting) and thoracic surgery (lung cancer).