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Overview of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R)Visión General de la Medicina Física y Rehabilitación

Overview of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R)

What is PM&R?

Photos of physical therapist working on man's shoulder

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R), also known as physiatry, is a medical specialty that involves the process of 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.

What is rehabilitation?

Rehabilitation is the process of helping an individual achieve the highest level of function, independence, and quality of life possible. Rehabilitation does not reverse or undo the damage caused by disease or trauma, but rather helps restore the individual to optimal health, functioning, and well-being. Rehabilitate (from the Latin "habilitas") means to make able.

The rehabilitation program

Rehabilitation medicine is designed to meet each person's specific needs; therefore, each program is different. Some general treatment components for rehabilitation programs include the following:

  • 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 rehabilitation depends on many variables, including the following:

  • 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

  • Family support

Areas covered in rehabilitation programs may include the following:

Patient need

Example

Self-care skills, including activities of daily living (ADLs)

Feeding, grooming, bathing, dressing, toileting, and sexual function

Physical care

Nutritional needs, medication, and skin care

Mobility skills

Walking, transfers, and self-propelling a wheelchair

Respiratory care

Ventilator care, if needed; breathing treatments and exercises to promote lung function

Communication skills

Speech, writing, and alternative methods of communication

Cognitive skills

Memory, concentration, judgment, problem solving, and organizational skills

Socialization skills

Interacting with others at home and within the community

Vocational training

Work-related skills

Pain management

Medications and alternative methods of managing pain

Psychological counseling

Identifying problems and solutions with thinking, behavioral, and emotional issues

Family support

Assistance with adapting to lifestyle changes, financial concerns, and discharge planning

Education

Patient and family education and training about the condition, medical care, and adaptive techniques

Understanding rehabilitation terminology

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.

 
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