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Outpatient Physical and Occupational Therapy

Rehabilitative Medicine provides patients who have suffered illness or injury with specialized therapy to help them regain function and return to everyday life. Ideally, it will approach both the patient's physical needs and the emotional challenges of learning to cope with the rehabilitation process and altered abilities. As part of their treatment, patients are regularly re-evaluated so that therapy can be tailored to their condition and progress.

Rehabilitation Medicine, also called Physiatry, is the field of medicine that specializes in preventing, diagnosing, and treating acute and chronic pain, musculoskeletal, and neurological disorders. Physiatrists are board-certified in their field and focus on the restoration of function to people of all ages with problems ranging from simple mobility issues to those with more complex disabilities. They may specialize in rheumatic diseases, amputations, spinal cord injuries, brain injury, pediatric disabilities, stroke, causalgia, Parkinson?s disease, movement disorders, cancer rehabilitation, and muscular dystrophy.

Physiatrists diagnose and treat patients with a wide range of musculoskeletal disorders including sports- and work-related injuries, chronic pain syndromes, and degenerative neurological diseases. They also coordinate the long-term rehabilitation process for people with serious disorders that may result in severe functional limitations, including stroke and other neurological disorders, cancer, spinal cord injury, brain injury, and amputation. They may prescribe specific therapeutic interventions as well as appropriate medications and devices.

Physical and occupational therapists on the rehabilitation team help patients learn to regain their lifestyle. The occupational therapist, or OT, is part of the multidisciplinary rehabilitation team and often directs the following types of care:

  • Evaluates children with developmental or neuromuscular problems and helps plan treatments that will help them grow mentally, socially, and physically
  • Assists adults in learning how to carry out activities of daily living (ADLs) at home, on the job, and in the community
  • Helps the elderly adjust to the special problems of aging while remaining physically and mentally active
  • Recommends changes in layout and design of the home, school, or workplace to allow persons with disabilities greater access and mobility
  • Teaches energy conservation and work simplification methods
  • Improves communication skills, such as reading, writing, and using the telephone
Occupational therapists hold undergraduate or Master's degrees and are certified by the American Occupational Therapy Association. They may practice in a variety of settings, including the following:
  • Hospitals
  • Inpatient rehabilitation centers
  • Outpatient rehabilitation centers
  • Schools
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Home care settings
  • Private practice

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