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Sports Medicine
Sports Physiatry 101: A guideline for athletes
July 28, 2017 | by Tanya Cabrita

Physiatry, also known as Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R), is a specialty that serves all ages and treats problems of all the major systems in the body.

It began in the 1930s to address musculoskeletal and neurological problems, but broadened its scope after World War II, as thousands of veterans came back with serious disabilities. The task of helping to restore them to productive lives became a new direction for the field.


What is a Physiatrist?

A Physiatrist is a brain, muscle, bone and nerve specialist. Physiatrists employ a patient centered holistic approach to seek the root cause for pain and disease in order to improve overall recovery and prevent recurrence.  Physiatrists serve to coordinate rehabilitation and recovery utilizing a multidisciplinary team of doctors and specialists such as physical therapists, orthopedists, chiropractors, etc.  The goal of treatment is to be as functional and pain free as possible in order to participate in and enjoy life as fully as possible.


What conditions do Physiatrists treat?

Physiatrists treat a wide range of problems from sore shoulders to spinal cord injuries.  They treat acute and chronic pain, musculoskeletal injuries and very serious disorders including spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, strokes, amputations, cancer and multiple sclerosis.  They may see a person who lifts a heavy object at work and experiences back pain, a whiplash injury from a car accident, a basketball player who sprains their ankle, or a cashier who has carpal tunnel syndrome. Physiatrists also treat people with arthritis, tendonitis, back pain, and work- and sports-related injuries.


What kind of treatments do Physiatrists offer?

Physiatrists offer a broad spectrum of medical services, but they do not perform surgery. Physiatrists have expertise in therapeutic exercise, medications and injections for management of injuries, pain and arthritis, electrodiagnosis and orthoses and other equipment. Their goal is to assist daily activities and coordinate treatment to help patients improve their physical, psychological, social and vocational function.


What do Sports Physiatrists offer athletes?

Physiatrists are experts in diagnosis, gait analysis and movement. Given their comprehensive knowledge and holistic approach they are well equipped to identify an undiagnosed or rare injury, and treat and advise on complicated or more difficult cases that do not follow the normal course. In addition, several diagnostic and therapeutic options can be offered to clients to assist in overcoming injuries and achieving their best. These include appropriate therapy and physician referrals, bracing, medications, injections and ultrasound procedures.


What do the Physiatrists at Fortius offer?

Physiatrists at Fortius are integrated into the Sport Medicine team, and provide a comprehensive diagnosis, medical management and rehabilitation plan for people over the age of 16 years (generally) with musculoskeletal disorders. This may include patients who have nerve or brain-related injuries.

Their approach to patient care looks at the whole person and not just one symptom or condition, basing evaluations on both neurological and musculoskeletal factors.

Physiatrists have expertise in a number of non-operative procedures including:

  • Trigger-point injections
  • Occipital nerve blocks
  • Tendon/joint/bursal injections
  • Electromyography (EMG)

To learn more about Sport Medicine at Fortius, visit our website or call 604.292.2501