This is a medical specialty dedicated to restoring optimal function for people with injuries and illness. Rehabilitation physicians like Dr. Berkower considers the whole person and treat the patient, not just the symptom. They diagnose and treat problems of the musculoskeletal system. Rehabilitation physicians (also called physiatrist) offer a non-surgical approach to pain and injury.
Typically less than five percent of those with low back and neck pain need surgery to correct their problem. Should a patient require surgery, the rehabilitation physician will coordinate care both before and after surgery for maximum rehabilitation.
PM&R has been recognized by two large insurance companies in Michigan as the first stop of care for patients with back pain. Patients in Priority Health and Blue Care Network plans in Michigan are now required to first be evaluated by a physiatrist for their back pain before seeing a surgeon. Since implementing this policy in 2010 they have had a 26 percent reduction in spine surgeries.
Similarly, when one suffers from heart disease they don’t go straight to the cardiothoracic surgeon. Instead they go to the non-operative cardiologist. In the same manner the physical medicine & rehabilitation physician is the non-operative back specialist.