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Polyclinic of Physical Treatment and Rehabilitation

What is physical medicine and rehabilitation?

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation physicians, also known as Physiatrists, treat a wide variety of medical conditions affecting the brain, spinal cord, nerves, bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, and tendons. Physiatrists  evaluate and treat injuries, illnesses, and disability, and are experts in designing comprehensive, patient-centered treatment plans. Physiatrists utilize cutting‐edge as well as time‐tested treatments to maximize function and quality of life.

What is a physiatrists?

Physiatrists,are medical doctors who have completed training in the specialty of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and studied in Palliative Medicine, Brain Injury Medicine, Neuromuscular Medicine, Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine, Spinal Cord Injury Medicine, Orthopedic Rehabilitation, Amputations, Cardiac & Pulmanary Rehabilitation, Pain Medicine and/or Sports Medicine.

To become a physiatrist, individuals must graduate from medical school followed by four additional years of postdoctoral training in a physical medicine and rehabilitation residency, interests in specialized study in such areas as musculoskeletal rehabilitation, pediatrics, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, and sports medicine.

How do physiatrists diagnose?

Physiatrists diagnose and treat medical conditions associated with disabilities.  These might include: cognitive problems, orthopedic anomalies, mobility concerns, bowel and bladder issues, gait disorders, feeding and swallowing problems, communication difficulties, pain, and muscle stiffness or hypotonia.  Physiatrists work collaboratively with neurologists, orthopedists, neurosurgeons, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists, and primary care physicians to look at the “big picture” of improving function, and often create a medical home for complicated patients. Physiatrists address caregiving, mobility, activities of daily living like dressing, bathing and eating, educational and vocational, and lifespan issues.

What is the physiatrist’s role in treatment?

Once they have a diagnosis, physiatrists  design a treatment plan that can be carried out by the patients themselves or with the help of the rehabilitation physician’s medical team. This interdisciplinary medical team may include medical professionals such as neurologists, psychiatrists and orthopedic surgeons and non-physician health professionals such as physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, vocational counselors, psychologists and social workers. The team is different for each patient, and the team's composition changes during treatment to match the patient's shifting needs. By providing an appropriate treatment plan, physiatrists  help patients stay as active as possible at any age. Their broad medical expertise allows them to treat disabling conditions throughout a person’s lifetime.

What do physiatrists prescibe?

Physiatrists prescribe medications for muscle and nerve problems, attention and memory issues, behavior , sleep, pain, bowel and bladder concerns, respiratory or gastrointestinal issues, and many other medical problems, just like other physicians. In particular, we specialize in spasticity management.  This includes prescribing specialized medications and invasive procedures. 

Physiatrists  prescribe braces/splints to improve arm or leg position or function, and prosthetics for limb loss. We prescribe equipment such as wheelchairs, standers, walkers, bath benches, lifts, etc. that enable caregivers and patients to move or be cared for more safely.  Physiatrists  advise about school and vocational programming, and behavioral and cognitive/learning issues.

Physiatrist may treat their patients using the following procedures/services:

  • EMG/Nerve Conduction Studies
  • Ultrasound guided procedures
  • Injections of spine 
  • Injections of joints
  • Prolotherapy
  • Spasticity Treatment (Phenol and Botulinum toxin injections, intrathecal baclofen pump trial and implants)
  • Manual Medicine/Osteopathic Treatment
  • Prosthetics and Orthotics
  • Complementary-alternative medicine (i.e. acupuncture, etc.)
  • Disability/impairment assessment
  • Medicolegal consulting

Specifically, physiatrist:

  • Treat patients of all ages
  • Focus treatment on function
  • Have a broad medical expertise that allows them to treat disabling conditions throughout a person’s lifetime
  • Diagnose and treat pain as a result of an injury, illness, or disabling condition
  • Determine and lead a treatment/prevention plan
  • Lead a team of medical professionals, which may include physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, rehabilitation nurses and physician extenders to optimize patient care
  • Work with other physicians, which may include primary care physicians, neurologists, orthopedic surgeons, and many others.
  • Treat the whole person, not just the problem area