Self Advocacy Begins with Knowledge - The Role of Well-Coordinated Rehabilitation and Risk Reduction

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Oct 27, 2015

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Able bodies and disabled bodies are all part of aging. The issue of disability for healthy individuals is not so much whether but when, and not so much which disabling event or illness but, how many and in what combination. The good news is that there are medical specialists and care teams that can champion the importance of coordination of care that includes customized, special attention to functional status and quality of life after a disabling event. This is important to know because functional status is by far the most important factor affecting quality of life and healthcare service utilization in the senior years. Physicians who specialize in Physical Medicine& Rehabilitation (PM&R) are trained to focus on the patient as a whole person and to put the medical management of a disabling event within the context of that individuals life and environment. PM&R medical specialists are also called physiatrists(fee-zy-a-trists0.

Asking your care provider about rehabilitation led by a specialist in this area further opens the door to coordinated care on your behalf. By partnering or consulting with a PM&R specialist, your primary care physician, or your hospitalist, neurologist, orthopedic surgeon, trauma surgeon, neurosurgeon or home health care team can enhance the ultimate chances of you doing well quicker and more comprehensively with conditions such as stroke; rheumatoid arthritis; total hip or knee replacement; sports-related injuries; musculoskeletal sprains and pain; neurological diagnoses such as multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, and traumatic brain injury; as well as debility that can develop after being in the hospital with a prolonged critical illness. Asking for a referral to a physiatrist can be a priceless form of self-advocacy, since, even today, there remain many physicians, care managers, and home health care providers who are not familiar with the expertise available in the field of PM&R.

This article was submitted by Indira S. Lanig MD, Medical Director at Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital, in Johnstown, CO. The NCRH team of physicians and therapists can be reached at 970-619-3454.

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