"I went to Dr. Chen for evaluation of back pain and sciatica. I saw an assistant doctor who asked a few questions. Dr. Chen came in and said, "sounds like you need an injection". He was in the room for all of 30 seconds. No explanation. I was told they would check with insurance and have an appointment in a week. I waited until two days before the projected appointment, and not having heard anything, began calling the office. The first day I got nowhere ("call back tomorrow"). The next day (the day before the appointment) I called twice more. I was told my insurance company would not approve the injection being done at the "Surgi-Center". They would do it in one of the doctor's three offices. The time was changed twice. I was originally told not to have anything to eat or drink, as I would have sedation. My appointment was finally scheduled for 1:00 P.M. I confirmed that I was still not supposed to eat or drink anything. Since I was supposed to have sedation, I would not be allowed to drive. I paid for an Uber ride there, and a family member would pick me up and drive me home. When I arrived, an assistant told me to lay face down on the table. The doctor would be in shortly. I asked, "am I going to receive sedation"? He said he would ask the doctor. Soon the assistant doctor from my first visit walked in, with two or three other men. No introductions were made, and no one asked if it was okay for them to observe. The doctor said, "there is no anesthesiologist here today, we will do it without sedation". I asked why no one had told me that ahead of time. He stated that anesthesia is provided at the Surgi-Center, not at the office. Again, I asked why I had not been told. No answer. I said that I had nothing to eat or drink all day, and had paid for an Uber ride to the office, and arranged for someone to pick me up. I could have just driven there myself. Lastly, I asked for an explanation of the procedure, which no one had given me. The only information I got was from You Tube videos I had watched the day before! At that point, I finally decided to leave the office without having the procedure. I did not trust anyone there to inject needles into my spine! It is the most disorganized and impersonal doctor's office I have ever been to. I definitely felt as if not one person there cared how I felt; I was just an object on the table and a payment in their pocket. It was a total nightmare. Now I am still in pain, and have to start all over to find another doctor."
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.