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Physiatry and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Adding Life to Years!

What is PMR and Physiatry

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (aka physiatry [pronounced as fɨˈzaɪ.ətri] or Rehabilitation Medicine or Physical & Rehabilitation Medicine) is a branch of modern (allopathic) system of medicine that aims to enhance and restore functional ability and quality of life to those with physical impairments or disabilities. That’s, a medical specialty that emphasizes prevention, diagnosis and treatment of patients who experience limitations in function resulting from any disease process, injury or symptom. A physician having completed specialized training in this field is referred to as a physiatrist (pronounced as fiss ee at’trist) or rehabilitation medicine specialist.

Indian Scenario

Medical Rehabilitation was started in India at KEM Hospital, Mumbai in 1955. Then PM&R departments were opened in AIIMS, Safdarjang Hospital, Lady Hardinge Medical College at New Delhi, CMC, Vellore, and at Chennai etc. All India Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation was setup by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Govt. of India, at Mumbai in fifties. At present PG diploma and degree courses are conducted in various places.

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation improves the quality of life of the patient through a dynamic team oriented approach. The Physiatrists play a leadership role in the process, providing advisory, supervisory and administrative guidance to the team members. The team members include physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist, respiratory therapist, nursing staff, orthotist, prosthetist and others. The traditional medical approach aims “adding years to life” and the Physiatry with the functional model accomplishes “adding life to years”.

Physical Medicine – Word “physical” in Physical Medicine encompasses all three expressions that’s pertaining to our physical-ness (body), physical agents (heat, light, sound, cold, etc.) and physical activities/exercises. Hence, Physical Medicine may be described as diagnosis and treatment of neuromusculoskeletal disorders with the use of medications, modalities, intervention procedures (including surgical procedures) and exercises. Physiatrists use medications, injections, physical modalities, exercises and education, individualized to the patient’s needs. That is why; it is often called “cementing force” between different specialties of modern medicine, having access to all the available modes of treatment.

Rehabilitation - Rehabilitate in Latin (habilitas) means to make able. Rehabilitation is the process of transforming a person with functional limitation to a person with maximal ability through the application of medical treatment, physical modalities, exercises and adaptive devises. Rehabilitation does not reverse or undo the damage caused by disease or trauma, but rather help restore the individual to optimal health, functioning and wellbeing.

PMR Sub-specialties: Due to rapid growth of the Physiatry, sub specialization in the fields like Neuro rehabilitation, Electro diagnosis, Spinal cord injury Medicine, Pain, Pediatrics, Sports medicine, Hospice and Palliative medicine, Sports Injuries, Interventional physiatry etc. are fast developing.

Medical Conditions treated by Physiatrist

Physiatrists specialize in restoring optimal function to people with injuries to the muscles, bones, tissues and nervous system. In short, “Persons affected by disease conditions or injuries that result in or leave the victim with Pain, Paralysis, and/or Deformity can be benefited through physiatric intervention. Common conditions treated by physiatrists include (but not limited to) amputation, arthritis, brain injuries, burns, cancer, cardiac disorders, fibromyalgia, industrial injuries, multiple sclerosis, neuromuscular diseases, neuropathies, pain disorders, pediatric disorders, pulmonary disorders, spinal cord injuries, stroke, post traumatic and musculoskeletal post-surgical conditions, various aches and pains, post-polio paralysis and deformities, cerebral palsy, etc.

The goal is to restore optimal function in all spheres of life including the medical (including physical, mental, psychological domains), social, emotional and vocational dimensions. The Goal or Mission statement may be described in acronym – MAD: Maximizing Abilities in-spite of Disabilities!

The field of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) began in the 1930s to address musculoskeletal and neurological problems, but broadened its scope considerably after World War II. The term Physiatry was coined by Dr. Frank H Krusen, who is known as the Father of Physical Medicine in 1938. This term was accepted by the America Medical Association in 1946.