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Definition of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R), also referred to as physiatry, is a medical specialty concerned with diagnosis, evaluation, and management of persons of all ages with physical and/or cognitive impairment and disability. This specialty involves diagnosis and treatment of patients with painful or functionally limiting conditions, the management of comorbidities and co-impairments, diagnostic and therapeutic injection procedures, electrodiagnostic medicine, and emphasis on prevention of complications of disability from secondary conditions.

Physiatrists are trained in the rehabilitation of neurologic disorders, and in the diagnosis and management of impairments of the musculoskeletal (including sports and occupational aspects) and other organ systems, and the long-term management of patients with disabling conditions. Physiatrists provide leadership to multidisciplinary teams concerned with maximal restoration or development of physical, psychological, social, occupational and vocational functions in persons whose abilities have been limited by disease, trauma, congenital disorders or pain to enable people to achieve their maximum functional abilities.


*Certification is a voluntary process by which the ABPMR grants recognition to a physician specialist who has met predetermined qualifications specified by the ABPMR. Many qualities are necessary to be a competent physician, and many of these qualities cannot be quantified or measured. Thus, certification is not a guarantee of the competence of the physician specialist.