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Get Moving Again: Is Rehabilitation Medicine Right for You?

November 16, 2020

Rehabilitation medicine, also known as physiatry, is a medical specialty that involves restoring function for a person who has been disabled as a result of a disease, disorder or injury.

 Dr. Matthew Reuter of Hartford HealthCare Rehabilitation Medicine answers some questions to explain how his team provides care aimed at recovery of the whole person by addressing your physical, emotional, medical, vocational and social needs:

What is Rehabilitation Medicine?

“Rehabilitation medicine can be summarized as ‘the medicine of movement.’ Providers in our field treat any medical condition that makes it harder for patients to move. This includes a broad spectrum of conditions, from joint pains and foot drops to strokes and spinal cord injuries. We provide care in both hospital and outpatient settings.”

What are some of the services you provide?

“I provide comprehensive physical exams and referrals to physical therapy for the conditions noted above along with certain procedures. I inject knees and shoulders to treat pain in those joints. I also provide Botox injections to patients with spasticity in their limbs.”

When should I seek treatment?

“Treatment should be sought whenever a condition causes significant deficits of movement that hinder a patient’s independence in mobility and daily activities. For example, if pain in your knee is preventing you from walking to your car or around the grocery store without assistance, we can help you regain your mobility to do your errands. In the hospital, we can help patients get back on their feet (literally) after being confined to bed or a wheelchair due to illness.”

What are the benefits?

“Benefits of rehabilitation medicine treatment include greater mobility and independence in performing daily activities.  We help patients perform those activities more confidently and with less pain. We also identify different medical conditions that may be affecting movement and the effects those specific conditions have on movement. We then partner with other providers treating those conditions to ensure that effects on movement are considered in their care.”

How does rehabilitation medicine fit into the continuum of care?

“Rehabilitation medicine can be a partner in care at every step of a patient’s journey to recovery. In the hospital we provide evaluations and recommendations for physical therapy, sometimes including inpatient rehabilitation. Should our Inpatient Rehab Unit be necessary, we manage a patient’s recovery of movement in partnership with the internal medicine service who treats medical conditions.

“We then continue oversight of physical therapy treatment as the patient transitions to the home care and eventually the outpatient setting.  In the outpatient setting we partner with neurologists, neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons, primary physicians and others to ensure that any medical condition that causes a movement deficit is managed to ensure the patient’s greatest possible independence in movement.”