What is Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation?
The specialty of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) is not one that many people are immediately familiar with, yet it is one that serves thousands of people every year. Also known as Physiatry, it is sometimes simply referred to as Rehabilitation or Rehab. This specialty focuses on restoring quality of life for patients who are experiencing physical pain or loss of function after a traumatic illness or injury. After major surgery, a car accident, a long illness such as cancer, or a major change to the body (such as the loss of a limb), it is the PM&R physicians who help patients begin to feel better and put the pieces of their life back together again.
PM&R physicians work with patients who have been disabled by pain or the loss of motion or cognition, and they find ways to restore function. They may consult with other physicians such as neurologists, orthopedists, physical therapists, or psychiatrists. PM&R specialists treat the whole person, not specific symptoms or illnesses, and their goal is to help patients lead active and able lives.
One example of services performed by a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician is teaching a patient who just had a leg amputated how to get around the house, use the bathroom, bathe, and care for themselves. A different example might be helping a patient learn how to walk again after a traumatic brain injury. Because there are so many different causes of pain and disability, the list of services provided by PM&R physicians is nearly endless. Generally, services that are provided by a PM&R specialist can fall into one of the following care categories:
Self-care skills (bathing, grooming)
Physical care (feeding, taking medication)
Respiratory care (ventilator care, exercises for lung function)
Cognitive skills (memory, problem solving)
Psychological counseling (adapting to a disability)
Because there are so many options, it can be a very creative specialty. When accidents, pain, or illness cause disability, it is the physical medicine and rehabilitation specialists who are there to give patients their life back.
What is Neonatology?
Neonatologists are doctors who provide care for newborn babies who need specialized medical help. These babies may be premature, sick, need surgery, or have injuries from birth. Neonatologists work in hospitals in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, or NICU, where they have access to special equipment sized to fit very small babies. Although neonatologists mostly see patients after birth, they may occasionally attend deliveries. In some cases where a problem is diagnosed during pregnancy, a neonatologist may also consult with the OBGYN or perinatologist (high-risk obstetrician).
Many of the problems that neonatologists treat are due to prematurity, where an infant is born before 37 weeks gestation. When infants are born prematurely, their bodies are often not developed enough to be able to cope with the world apart from their mother. Premature infants sometimes struggle with issues such as:
Breathing and lung problems, including apnea
Jaundice, a condition that causes yellowing of the skin (jaundice is common in newborns but can sometimes lead to serious complications)
An underdeveloped digestive system, which poses a nutritional challenge
An underdeveloped neurological system, which can lead to problems breathing, sucking, and swallowing
Full-term infants also sometimes require the care of a neonatologist. Problems that might affect a full-term newborn include, among others:
Asphyxia, or a lack of oxygen, during birth
Congenital birth abnormalities
Infections such as pneumonia or meningitis
Hyperbilirubinemia, or severe jaundice
Injuries obtained during the birth process
Bradycardia, or an unusually slow heartbeat
Neonatologists spend time with their tiny patients and their families, diagnose and treat any problems, and manage their daily care. They also ensure newborn babies receive adequate nutrition, which is a critical factor in their healing and growth. Having a baby in the NICU can be a scary time for families. Neonatologists have the knowledge and experience in newborn care to provide the best for your baby.
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