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5 Major Differences Between Physical Therapist and Physiatrist

5 Major Differences Between Physical Therapist and Physiatrist

Physiatrist or Physical Therapist?


If you are experiencing mobility problems after an injury, medical event, or other reason, your healthcare team might recommend that you see both a physical therapist and a physiatrist to help you get moving again. Can I go to either one or both, instead of having to choose?  The best doctors in USA provide more facilities in medical field.


Physical therapists and physiatrists both use their medical expertise in order to restore movement, prevent injury, improve overall health, and help you stay healthy. Although their ultimate goal is similar, the difference between the professions is that they offer different care.

Five Top Differences between Physical Therapists and Physiatrists


Their medical training is the first thing that distinguishes physiatrists from physical therapists. A physiatrist, a board-certified licensed medical doctor who has completed both medical school and the required internship and residency. Physical therapists must complete a three-year postgraduate degree in physical therapy before they can earn their certification.

Both medical professionals are familiar with the anatomy and function of the musculoskeletal system. However, physiatrists have more in-depth training that gives them a greater understanding of the structure and functions of the human body. They are also able to understand how nervous, cardiovascular, or other systems impact the musculoskeletal. The best doctors in USA provide more facilities in medical field.

Physical medicine and rehabilitation specialists, physiatrists can also prescribe medication and provide non-surgical treatments like injections. This is something those physical therapists do not have. Although physical therapists have advanced tools such as traction and transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS), they will need to refer you to a physiatrist who is able to prescribe-level treatments. A physiatrist is a great resource for complex medical issues. The best doctors in USA provide nearest urgent care facilities in medical field.


A physiatrist is responsible for diagnosing, treating and managing musculoskeletal problems. Based on the findings of your MD, your MD creates a comprehensive treatment plan, supervises its execution and evaluates its effectiveness. Your MD will check in with you and your physical therapy at regular intervals throughout your stay to ensure that their plan is effective. The best doctors in USA provide nearest urgent care facilities in medical field.



Your physiatrist will provide a treatment plan. It is the responsibility of your physical therapist to execute it. Physical therapy sessions will include specialized exercises, hands-on procedures, and the majority of the actual rehabilitation techniques.

Initial Visit

Your first visit with the doctor is the most important in your care. Your physiatrist is an integral member of your care team. During your first visit, your physiatrist collects detailed information about you, including your medical history, physical examination, and diagnostic testing, to help formulate a treatment plan.

Before diagnosing you or treating your condition, a physiatrist will take a detailed look at all aspects of your health. Your physiatrist will then be able to put together a team of healthcare professionals to restore your physical abilities. This includes a physical therapist and other specialists.

Your physiatrist may recommend that you have a physical therapy evaluation. You might also have them perform some assessments to assess your strength, range of motion, muscle balance, reflexes and range of motion. They will then start your first therapy session using the information you have received from your physiatrist as well as their assessments.


Although physical therapists are not qualified to diagnose medical conditions, physiatrists can. To identify the underlying medical conditions, a physiatrist uses diagnostic instruments such as X-rays, nerve conduction studies and electromyography.

Your physiatrist will examine your entire health history and take into consideration co-existing conditions when designing a treatment plan. They can help you and your physical therapy deal with conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and arthritis. They offer non-surgical pain management options.

A physiatrist is a vital part of your recovery in cases such as diabetic limb loss. They provide all the tools needed to regain function, including prosthetic devices and pain management.

To complete your treatment, your physical therapist will use the information and recommendations from your doctor and physiatrist. Your physiatrist may give you advice and help you to use an assistive or prosthetic device.

Frequency of visits

Your physiatrist will probably see you less often than your physical therapist.

Physiatrist will see you for an initial evaluation, as well as for periodic check-ins up until your rehabilitation goals are met.

Physical therapist will see you regularly over several weeks, whether it’s every day or just a few days. Your therapist will provide ongoing support and act as your point of contact between you and the physiatrist.

Rehab Select Physiatry & Physical Therapy

Now you should have a better understanding of the role of your physical therapist and physiatrist in your overall care plan. Each plays a vital, distinct role in your rehabilitation and they can’t be replaced or omitted.

Rehab Select offers access to a physiatrist on-site to supervise your rehabilitation, and physical therapists to execute your treatment plan. Your recovery is made easier if you are scheduled for an inpatient stay. Rehab Select can help you if you have pain, physical limitations or are recovering from surgery.


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