Overview of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R)
What is PM&R?
Physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R), also called physiatry, is a medical specialty that focuses on restoring function for a person who has been disabled due to a disease, disorder, or injury.
Physiatry provides integrated, multidisciplinary care aimed at recovery of the whole person. It addresses the person's physical, emotional, medical, vocational, and social needs. A doctor who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation is called a physiatrist.
What is rehabilitation?
Rehabilitation (rehab) 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 it helps restore the person to optimal health, functioning, and well-being.
The rehabilitation program
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 person and their 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 person's overall health
Areas covered in rehab programs may include:
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 in the community
Medicine and alternative methods of managing pain
Identifying problems and solutions with thinking, behavioral, and emotional issues
Help with adapting to lifestyle changes, financial concerns, and discharge planning
Patient and family education and training about the condition, medical care, and adaptive techniques
Understanding rehabilitation terminology
Rehab 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 can't do an activity in a normal way due to an impairment, such as not being able to walk.
A handicap occurs when there are limits that prevent a person with a disability from doing their normal roles, such as not being able to work. A handicap refers to a barrier that may be imposed by society, the environment, or the person'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.