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    The Difference between a Physiatrist and a Physical Therapist

    The Difference between a Physiatrist and a Physical Therapist

    When you suffer an accident or injury that causes long-lasting disability or requires extensive treatment, there are many options available for recovery. While some people are able to recuperate on their own, others require professional help to get better.

    For these, many turn to physiatrists and physical therapists, and sometimes both. These two professions are very closely related, but there are distinct differences.

    Physical Therapists

    Physical therapists are those who execute the rehabilitation plan for a patient. They exercise muscles and joints and apply exercises and equipment that is designed to improve and restore flexibility, build muscles and return dexterity. Physical therapists know how to target specific muscle groups and use specialized exercises to compensate for the loss of mobility and function.

    Physical therapists focus on restoring the patient to their full previous level of functionality if possible, or with treating the loss of mobility that comes with age or chronic diseases. Their goal is to improve quality of life and provide useful exercise to get the body working the way it should.


    The physiatrist is a trained physician with a medical degree. This professional is usually the first stop on a rehabilitation program. They evaluate the condition of those who have suffered a loss of dexterity, mobility or strength through disease, accident or other ailment and create an extensive plan of treatment and rehabilitation.

    The physiatrist knows how the body’s various systems relate to one another. They understand how the muscular and skeletal system works with the nervous system to provide mobility and strength, and are able to create a course of rehabilitation therapy as a result. They are also able to account for high blood pressure, diabetes, risk of heart attack, chronic pain and the like during the therapy plan.

    The Careers

    Physical therapists and physiatrists both pursue a degree in the sciences. After completion of the undergraduate degree, the therapist embarks on a three year degree in physical therapy and is then licensed by a national board and by their individual state.

    Physiatrists, on the other hand, spend four years in medical training following their undergraduate degree. This is followed by an internship and a three-year residency in physical medicine. Eventually, the two careers then come back together to help rehabilitate those suffering from pain, injury and illness.

    How They Work Together

    Physical therapists and physiatrists are very different, but have similar training and are often both part of a patient’s rehabilitation team. Physiatrists have longer and more intensive training in the function of the human body and can prescribe medications as well as identifying medical conditions that can affect rehabilitation.

    Where the physiatrist plans the course of rehabilitation, the physical therapist executes it. They are knowledgeable in the application of exercise and equipment towards recovery and are often adept at providing important other support. This can include coaching much like a personal trainer, encouragement and even emotional support.

    If you are in the Las Vegas area and have suffered an accident or illness that resulted in chronic pain, we are here to answer your questions. Check out our affiliate services and give us a call for more information today.

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