What is the Physiatrist's Role in Treatment?

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A physiatrist may treat patients directly, lead an interdisciplinary team or act as a consultant. Special techniques in electrodiagnostic medicine such as electromyography (EMG), nerve conduction studies, and somatosensory evoked potentials may be used. These techniques help the physiatrist to evaluate and diagnose conditions that cause pain, weakness and numbness.


Physiatrists offer a broad range of medical services. They may perform minimally invasive surgery and they may prescribe drugs or assistive devices, such as a braces, orthotic devices or artificial limbs. With a strong understanding of ergonomics, physiatrists can advise patients about correct posture and behavior modification to prevent injuries. They also use therapies such as heat and cold, electrotherapies, massage, biofeedback, traction, therapeutic exercise, injection techniques including joint, trigger point, spinal or selective nerve injections.


Rehabilitation Facts and Treatment Modalities

  • Rehabilitation physiatrists treat some 50,000 new amputees each year. Innovative technologies in prosthetics allow amputees to return closer to their previous quality of life.
  • Rehabilitation for cancer patients can include pain control, bladder and bowel management, and management of spastic or weak muscles.
  • About 10–15 percent of patients seeing physiatrists suffer from heart disease. Physiatrists manage heart disease through a regimen of exercise, dietary consulting, stress management, and family counseling.
  • Physiatrists manage children with traumatic brain injury, congenital and acquired amputations, and both acute and long-term spinal cord injury, muscular dystrophy and spinal muscular atrophy, pediatric burns, and a myriad of congenital disabilities. Pediatric physiatrists provide prescriptions for wheelchairs, bracing, and communication devices.
  • Normal aging due to muscle de-conditioning, vascular disease and stroke, skeletal problems including osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and conditions related to knee and hip replacements are frequent disorders treated with geriatric rehabilitation treatments. Physical, occupational, and speech therapies may be prescribed to assist the patient to restoring a pre-injury quality of life.
  • Stroke is the third most common cause of death in the United States and is the most frequent cause of severe disability. Working as part of a team, the physiatrist assists the patient surviving a stroke in improving functional independence including personal care, mobility, community skills, and activities of daily living.
  • Physiatrists are involved in prevention and treatment of fractures due to osteoporosis, aiming to decrease the occurrence of 1.5 million fractures each year attributed to this disease.

Dr. Wrightson currently performs all of the following procedures at his New Castle PA office:

  • Radiofrequency procedures
  • Trigger Point Injections
  • Epidural Lysis of Adhesions
  • Intrathecal pump for pain and spasticity.
  • Vertiflex- indirect lumbar decompression procedure
  • Regenerative Medicine for Osteoarthritis and Tendinopathies
  • Injection therapy: not limited to cervical epidurals; facet joints, sacro-iliac injection, thoracic and lumbar epidural steroid injections; knee, elbow, hip injections all fluoroscopic guided and many, many more.
  • Nerve Blocks
  • Spinal Cord Stimulation
  • Dorsal Root Ganglion Stimulation
  • Discograms
  • Botox injections
  • Vertebroplasty
  • Medication therapy(this includes monitored urine drug screens, pill counts and taking the pressure off your practice for regulation standards)
  • Suboxone (drug detoxification) treatment.
  • MILD Procedure - Minimally Invasive Lumbar Decompression Surgery