Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: Restoring Functionality

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation – often known as PM&R – is a lesser known medical specialty. But the treatments this specialty provides if you’d become disabled can be life-changing.

PM&R helps restore your functional abilities and quality of life if you’ve had a physical impairment or disability from an injury or illness. These types of issues could include brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, peripheral nerve injury, arthritis, or amputation.

“We work to restore function. That may mean doing medical testing to see what’s going on. It may mean providing treatment in the form of medications, injections, or working with therapy teams to try to help people get better,” says Michael Pedoto, MD, of Premier Physical Medicine Associates, part of Premier Physician Network. “We don’t necessarily always try to cure things, but we try to maximize an individual’s function. We try to look at things in a holistic, patient-centered approach to get people as good as they could possibly be.”

PM&R has been around as a medical specialty since the 1930s, which makes it newer compared to other specialties. It became prominent after World War II to help veterans maximize their functional abilities.

“Anytime somebody has an injury or illness that affects their function, results in a painful condition, or they are not able to do the things that they used to do or want to do, it’s potentially an opportunity for us to help them,” Dr. Pedoto says.

Other Parts of PM&R

PM&R providers can do functional capacity evaluations, which you give your employer, insurance company, or for Social Security disability with information about your disability. They also do wheelchair evaluations so you can get a prescription for the right device for your needs.

Your PM&R specialist won’t take the place of your regular medical care team, but PM&R providers can prescribe medication, give injections, and order therapies. They also work with other specialists and therapists to get you the right help you need to maximize your function and abilities.

“It’s a team approach, but we all have our own role to play,” Dr. Pedoto says. “We collaborate with many different specialties either by phone, in person, hallway consultation, or electronically to make sure that our services complement the services of whichever provider refers us.”

Dr. Pedoto says he tries not only to do his best for his patient, but also to educate other providers about what services PM&R specialists have to offer.

To learn more about physical medicine and rehabilitation, talk to your doctor or health care provider or search for a provider.