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Common Treatments 

Treatment is prescribed on an individual basis and depends on the patient's specific needs and may change as the patient progresses.  It often includes a combination of multiple approaches which may include medication, physical modalities, exercises, splinting or casting, orthotics and adaptive equipment.


As part of the treatment plan, the physiatrist might discuss the use of specific medications to help reduce pain, reduce inflammation and improve the function of muscles and the brain. It is important for the patient to share all their medical history including prior diagnoses, current medications and medical allergies so that the best medical decision can be made in conjunction with the physician.

Physical Modalities

Therapists may use a variety of physical modalities to reduce pain, swelling and/or increase muscle contraction such as:

  • Electrical Stimulation
  • Ultrasound
  • Heat/Ice


The primary treatment approach to help patients regain function that therapists use are specifically prescribed exercises that are designed to increase mobility, strength and coordination.

Movement and Activities Modification

Therapists are trained to analyze and retrain movement so that less stress is placed on injured body parts. Examples include re-training day to day activities such as walking, reaching and talking or retraining specialized movements such as a golf swing or a swimming stroke.

Adaptive Equipment and Assistive Device

Sometimes when a patient has an injury or disability, therapists use adapted equipment to assist the patient to be able to perform the activity. Some devices can be very simple such as braces while other devices can be very complicated such as adaptations made to cars so that patients can continue to drive or specialized computer systems that help patients communicate after a neurological injury or illness.


An Orthotic is an orthopedic appliance used to support, align, prevent, or correct deformities or to improve the function of movable parts of the body. Examples include knee braces after injury, rigid support around the ankle use to help with ambulation after someone has a stroke and wrist splints used for patients with hand and arm symptoms such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Therapists are specialty trained to prescribe and make basic orthotics although sometimes will work with a licensed Orthotist to ensure the best device is provided to the patient.


A prosthesis is an artificial replacement for a body part. Typically rehabilitation professionals (physicians and therapists) work with patients after amputations. A prosthetist is a person who measures, designs, fabricates, fits, or services a prosthesis as prescribed by a licensed physician, and who assists in the formulation of the prosthesis prescription for the replacement of external parts of the human body lost due to amputation or congenital deformities or absences.