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. As thousands of veterans came back to the United States with serious disabilities, the task of helping to restore them to productive lives became a new direction for the field. The American Board of Medical Specialties granted PM&R its approval as a specialty of medicine in 1947.
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) physicians, also known as physiatrists, treat a wide variety of medical conditions affecting the brain, spinal cord, nerves, bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, and tendons. PM&R physicians 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. Once we have a diagnosis, PM&R physicians design a treatment plan that can be carried out by the patients themselves or with the help of the rehabilitation physician’s medical team. By providing an appropriate treatment plan, PM&R physicians 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.