How a Physiatrist Can Help Car Accident Victims

Key Points:

  • Physiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, and restoration of function in cases of injury or illness. They typically lead teams of physical and occupational therapists to restore and rehabilitate patients.
  • Physiatrists can prescribe medications and include pain management in their treatment of patients.
  • Because Physiatrists are skilled at determining if your injuries can fully heal and how long treatment might take, their opinions may be used to evaluate how much your injury case may be worth.

What Does a Physiatrist Do?

Physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians are also known as physiatrists. These specialists treat a wide variety of medical conditions as well as trauma-related injuries involving the brain, spinal cord, nerves, bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, and tendons. 

Physiatrists, unlike physical therapists, are actual medical doctors who have completed medical school plus four years of residency training.

After an accident, once life-threatening injuries are taken care of, a physiatrist usually starts helping victims heal over time. These experts figure out and guide treatment for the painful and sometimes disabling injuries that keep people from getting back to their normal lives.

Physiatrists can also diagnose illnesses, prescribe medications, and design treatment protocols for physical therapists to follow. It then typically falls to physical therapists to follow the physiatrist’s directions in retraining and rehabilitating the patient. This work can take weeks, months, or even years.

What Disorders Do Physiatrists Treat?

Physiatrists have broad medical expertise that allows them to treat disabling injuries and other conditions throughout a person’s lifetime. They are rarely seen in the emergency room but are often called upon for specialized care in the long term. Their care helps patients recover more fully from disabling injuries that can happen in accidents.

Physiatrists specialize in non-surgical care for conditions, such as neuromuscular (nerve, muscle, and bone) disorders that often follow accident-related injuries. These injuries frequently cause pain and impair normal, everyday functions, sometimes for the remainder of the patient’s life. These specialists also may lead a team of medical professionals at facilities focused on rehabilitation. They work with physical therapists and occupational therapists with the goal of maximizing patient care in accident-related situations related to:

  • Amputation/prosthetics
  • Brain injury
  • Neurological injuries
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Spine pain
  • Sports-related injuries

Where Do Physiatrists Work?

Physiatrists work in many kinds of facilities – from hospitals to rehabilitation centers. Sometimes, where they do their work depends upon the needs of their patients and where those patients are along their road to recovery. This means physiatrists may also work in inpatient nursing facilities or outpatient and sports clinics.

Physiatrists Can Develop Physical Therapy and Recovery Plans

With their focus on long-term treatment for the consequences of accident-related injuries, physiatrists know what course of therapy and rehabilitation will be necessary to help victims restore full functionality, if possible. This is valuable information as you begin to consider settling your insurance claim.

How Can Physiatrists Help a Car Accident Victim?

Unlike other medical professionals who typically specialize in specific systems of the body, doctors of physiatry seek to treat and rehabilitate the entire body. They work to combine physical therapy and pain treatments to maximize physical function. They usually take a non-surgical approach and focus on decreasing or eliminating pain while helping the patient regain their independence and improve the quality of life that can be impacted by accidental injury or illness.

These doctors can monitor treatment and prescribe lifestyle changes and offer medications as necessary. They can also help with prosthetic devices if an amputation occurred. Because they are fully qualified physicians, they can recognize if the care of another specialist is needed and often work closely with other doctors to accomplish the goal.

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The Role of a Physiatrist in Car Accident Legal Claims

Following an accident, after the immediate, emergent treatment is complete, you may still face a long and painful recovery from your injuries. A physiatrist may devise a treatment plan to help you recover.

When you’re hurt in an accident, it’s important to get the right evaluations and reports from a qualified doctor with lots of experience to help your compensation case. A physiatrist can offer this support.

Not only can a physiatrist create a treatment plan and estimate recovery time, but they can also estimate the long-term cost of your care. Particularly in auto accidents, it’s crucial to know approximately how long treatment will take and how much it is likely to cost before you settle your accident claim.

These unsung heroes of the medical profession often deal with the long-term effects of the types of injuries car crash victims may experience. The reports a physiatrist prepares for you can be useful as you and your attorneys negotiate a full and fair settlement of your personal injury claim or case.

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