LCHM Summer 2018 - 19

L C M E D S O C .O R G

FEATURE

Physiatry

Can Help Patients Regain Functional
Abilities and Improve Quality of Life
BY DR. GEETA SATHE
Director of Outpatient Physiatry, St. Luke's University Health Network

F

or patients who have experienced
a major health scare, it can be hard
to feel "normal" again. Imagine
you are able to walk one day and
have difficulty standing the next as a result of
a stroke or traumatic accident. This can be a
life-altering event that can lead to disruption of
everyday function. We all take for granted how
much we do on a daily basis; activities such as
buttoning a shirt, driving to work, holding a
child or playing golf can seem overwhelming
to those affected and their loved ones. With
proper guidance and perseverance, the road to
functional recovery exists.

while simultaneously monitoring their medical
status. Most importantly physiatrists aim to
improve the overall quality of life for their patients.

Here's an example of how a rehabilitation
program might work for a patient with an
inability to walk due to stroke or traumatic
accident. After medical stabilization, a
The field is especially important since physiatrist would care for a patient at
individuals are living longer and, as we age, the inpatient rehabilitation unit, which
rehabilitation can enhance functional abilities, would include a team of experts involved
making physiatrists and PM&R even more im- in an intensive, structured, daily therapy
portant. New technologies, regenerative medicine, program with close medical monitoring.
bio engineering, virtual reality, gene therapy and Once goals like standing, then walking
drug discoveries could lead to people not only utilizing a device like a walker, are achieved,
surviving longer but functioning independently the patient would transition to an outpalonger. For example, exciting research is being tient rehabilitation program to continue
conducted in multiple laboratories growing fine tuning the gait (walking) cycle and
viable skeletal muscular tissue, which could be sometimes ordering a brace. An outpatient
Physiatry or Physical Medicine and Reha- useful in the future combating diseases such as physiatrist would then follow the patient's
bilitation (PM&R) is a field with expertise in muscular dystrophy, regenerating a traumatic functional progress, edit the plan of care,
"functional" medicine. The specialty is unique muscular wound, or perhaps even delaying the and help guide patients back to their lives,
in that it addresses the function of the whole aging process.
work and activities of enjoyment.
patient, as compared to focusing on one organ
system or systems.
An in-patient or outpatient team, led by a
When looking for physiatry services,
physiatrist and trained therapists and social consult your family physician or specialist
Physiatrists are medical doctors who receive workers, exists to achieve patient goals. More to determine if the course of rehabilitative
specialized training in Physical Medicine and specifically, physiatry services may include: physiatry treatment is right for you.
Rehabilitation. They work with patients who
Dr. Sathe's specific interests include stroke rehabilitation,
have experienced complex conditions such as * Writing appropriate therapy prescriptions
exercise medicine, brain injury rehabilitation, prosthetics
stroke, severe trauma, brain or spinal cord injury,
* Using medications, injections and modalities to
& orthotics, cancer rehabilitation, acupuncture, and
multiple sclerosis, or Parkinson's, but also work
improve range of motion or musculoskeletal pain musculoskeletal pain. She received her medical degree
with more common conditions such as arthritis,
from Penn State University College of Medicine and
fractures, musculoskeletal injuries, and falls. * Recommending medical equipment, determining continued with her residency and internship at University
shoe wear, bracing, prosthetics, orthotics
of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
These conditions may affect the way patients
*
Discussing
functional
assessments
and
functional
move and communicate, as well as how they
prognosis
perceive themselves in the home or workplace.
A physiatrist will tailor specific, nonsurgical * Creating personalized exercise plans
treatments for each individual using a team * Assisting in conservative pain management plan
approach towards recovery to help patients regain
mobility, self-care, speech and cognitive abilities * Educating patients and families
in order to maximize functional independence
SUMMER 2018 | Lehigh County Health & Medicine 19


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of LCHM Summer 2018

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